In The Spotlight – McGrath Orange and Molong | McGrath
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In The Spotlight – McGrath Orange and Molong

McGrath Rural
01/07/2022 | 2 MIN READ

The COVID-19 driven tree change that inspired so many people to seek out rural lifestyles is still happening in the NSW Central West.

But cashed-up buyers relocating from the cities are finding strong competition for land from farmers who are expanding their operations. Scott Petersen, Rural Specialist from McGrath Orange and Molong gives us the run-down on what's happening in this month's In Focus.

Orange, a major hub of New South Wales’ Central West, has been amongst the most popular rural lifestyle options for cashed-up Sydneysiders seeking a life change.

Combined with competition from farmers who are looking to expand, rural prices have climbed 50% in the area since the pandemic broke out.

“There’s a few Baby Boomers on the land who know that now is the best time to sell,” said McGrath Orange and Molong Rural Specialist Scott Petersen.

“There’s plenty of water around at the moment. There’s a lot of demand from farmers wanting to purchase neighbouring properties for expansion. So, when you have a couple of local farmers competing for a neighbour’s property, and throw a city-buyer into the mix, we’re regularly hitting new price premiums. It's a very interesting market, right now.”

Prices around the region vary, but good quality farmland out of town can fetch up to $5,500 per acre, about 50% higher than what it would have earned before the drought broke.

“Out around Cowra and Forbes, some properties with access to the arms of the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers are getting up around the $5,500 an acre. Some other areas are generating $3,000 an acre, which is still substantially higher than what would have been achieved a couple of years ago.”

The McGrath office will soon list a 500-acre listing and a 3000-acre listing which Petersen said will attract strong interest from different buyer pools.

“Demand for rural assets is across the board. I’m confident we’ll receive healthy interest for both these properties.”

Rural land on the fringe of Orange, with the potential for future rezoning for urban use, can fetch anywhere between $30,000-$80,000 per acre, said Petersen, driven by the ongoing popularity of the region.

The town’s median house price has risen more than 30% in the last 12 months for a median of $675,000.

On the farms, cattle and sheep sales have been exceptionally strong, while canola and wheat production has been healthy, boosted by good seasonal conditions.

Apple and cherry orchards have had a bumper production period in the area but the absence of backpackers around Australia has meant some fruit has gone to waste.

Additionally, the region is home to a lot of off-farm employment including the Orange Base Hospital, decentralised government agencies and nearby mining.

As a lifestyle region, it offers the gastronomic trappings of the city with awarded restaurants and a win industry that leverages cool climate conditions and the rich basalt soils at the base of Mount Canoblas.

Another interesting market price point is small acreage listings, said Petersen. While retiring farmers are giving up their landholdings, they’re often not ready to downsize to a townhouse.

Small acreage has, however, been the popular entry point for people wanting to try their hand at rural life or hobby farming.

“These farmers can look after 10 or 20 acres on their ear. When they’re competing against buyers who sold at the peak in the city, that’s generating very solid sales results, as well.”