Southland was one of two regions with increased farm sales at the end of 2017.
Data released by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) showed for the three months ended November 2017, Southland had seven more farm sales than in the same period in 2016.
Taranaki was the only other region to record an increase, with one more farm sale for the three months ended November 2017 than for the same period in 2016.
REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said while the sales volume for the three-month period ended November 2017 showed a significant easing from the same period in 2015 and 2016, the figures, except for Southland and Taranaki, reflected the anticipated increase in volumes from the previous month of October for dairy, finishing and grazing properties.
Southland had a large number of farms for sale and a shortage of buyers, Mr Peacocke said.
"[There has been] some yield-related activity involving corporate purchasers at the larger end of the market [but] hard work on second and third-tier properties."
There had been solid activity and good prices on better finishing and grazing properties and there was also further indication of banks firming their positions. Debt reduction was required in some instances, he said.
Otago had the largest reduction in farm sales, with 26 fewer farms sold for the three-month period ended November 2017 than for the same period in 2016.
The market was tough and was being impacted by climatic conditions and lack of liquidity, Mr Peacocke said.
"[There has been] some activity on smaller grazing properties but harder work on the larger blocks."
External factors, climatic and financial in particular, were continuing to keep the rural sector under pressure, Mr Peacocke said.
"The easing in the dairy payout gives an additional cautionary signal and the early dry is impacting on the ability to finish cattle and lambs in many regions. As signalled [in November] ... it would appear a record number of farms have come on the market this spring. Although there is no official recording of such volumes in previous years, the current figures certainly raise some serious questions as to the drivers for farmers making such decisions."