In The Spotlight – McGrath Snowy Mountains
In this month’s In the Spotlight we head to the cool climates at the foot of the Snowy Mountains with McGrath’s Shannon Fergusson.
Over the last five years, some farmers across the Cooma, Berridale and wider Monaro areas have seen their land values triple, according to McGrath Snowy Mountains’ Principal Shannon Fergusson.
Prices are fetching $1500 per acre for lower quality parcels and up to $2,500 for quality mixed farming land comprising a full array of working improvements.
“There’s very little turnover of larger farming properties in the area so when something does come to market, there’s a lot of competition,” said Fergusson.
“The average age of farmers on the Monaro is significantly higher than the NSW average’’ these farmers have in most cases lived on the land all their lives and have rarely spent much time away from their properties and find the prospect of leaving very difficult.
“Farmers are now sitting on assets that have sometimes tripled in value over the last five years. Some, at their stage in life, will be motivated by price growth and choose to test the market in the coming future.”
Additionally, while the region hasn’t experienced much intergenerational transfer of land over the last decade, Fergusson said there was a high chance, in post-Covid times, that the younger generations would return from city-life and take up the land.
Being at the foot of the alpines, the region has a very short growing season: the first frosts arrive around ANZAC Day each year. The same conditions, however, make for hardy breeders, with quality operators including Hazeldean having based themselves in the area for generations.
Cooma Regional Saleyards’ April calf sales attract buyers from all over Australia, attracted by the resilient weaners and young cattle on offer. Around 5000-6000 progeny are pushed through the yards over a week-long auction program.
The Monaro region has received above average rainfall and has enjoyed excellent seasonal conditions, like much of rural NSW, over the last two years. But land prices haven’t simply risen in the area because of seasonal conditions.
Major infrastructure project, the Snowy 2.0 hydro-electric scheme, and Jindabyne’s future $391m Special Activation Plan are also underpinning residential and rural land prices.
“The Jindabyne project, in particular, is going to bring a lot of year-round amenities to the area,” said Fergusson.
“Rural lifestyle properties that are sub-1000 acres are very popular, where buyers can generate a bit of income while still having off-farm employment.” “And closer to town, sub-100 acre properties with the potential for subdivision are routinely fetching $1-1.5m.”