Overseas investor interest in rural property skyrockets

Rural lifestyle properties across the country have long attracted interest from overseas investors.

Over the past year as the US property market spiralled in to turmoil, real estate agents in New Zealand noticed a marked increase in keen foreign investors seeking a Kiwi country estate.

Realestate.co.nz data shows a record 131% increase in visitors viewing farms and agricultural land for the first four months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

“This increase is well ahead of the total number of visitors from overseas searching for farms and agricultural land which was up 29% and domestic interest in rural which was up 32%,” realestate.co.nz chief executive Alistair Helm says.

PGG Wrightson rural sales consultant Peter Engel says that properties with commercial potential are some of the most popular with US investors, such as horticultural, dairying and vineyard sites.

“American investors are motivated to diversify the geographic spread of their assets and recognise the strong fundamentals that underpin New Zealand agriculture, the stable political environment, and the favourable exchange rate,” Mr Engel says.

Lifestyle properties with recreational uses such as fishing and hunting also appeal to American investors.

Brown real estate agent Russell Reddell specialises in rural lifestyle South Island properties, and says he has noticed an increase recently.

“I think its been a trend over the last 24 months but in last six months or so it has picked up more,” Mr Reddell says.

He adds that increased interest has not been limited to the US, with investors from across the board internationally approaching him.

Bayleys Canterbury says that high country rural lifestyle properties have been pulling interest from English investors recently as well as the United States.

“A lot of expats have also been interested in rural properties lately, particularly from Australia. We’ve also had interest from Singapore and South Africa recently,” a Bayleys spokesperson says.

Canadian interest has also risen, Mr Helm says. “Of the top 10 countries searching for farms, Canadian interest is up 89% year-on-year.”

Article by: Jazial Crossley - www.stamfordadvocate.com