Strong sheep and beef markets are providing the impetus for farmers to sell their properties across South Canterbury.

Dozens of farms across the district are on the market, with a particularly strong market place in outlying areas of Timaru and across the Mackenzie Country.

Property Brokers rural and lifestyle agent Marcus Nurse said there was a fair bit happening throughout South Canterbury, with a range of properties listed and some good sales being achieved.

''A common theme for sales is age and stage of life, followed by farmers wanting to step up to larger properties,'' Mr Nurse said.

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''Some older farmers are seeking to exit the sheep and beef industry, and with good product prices currently, this is a favourable time for farmers to extend their properties. Also, for those starting out in farming, some good part time units provide an opportunity to climb on to the farming ladder.''

He said farms that were selling were, on balance, more likely to be in more favoured locations or farms with adjoining neighbour interest with strong balance sheets.

''Outside those parameters, pricing for fair market value is important and farm buyers are savvy and looking for value,'' he said.

''In particular, farms in sheep and beef and deer country are in good supply, with vendors looking to capitalise on the strong product prices which, on the larger properties, would be a significant windfall.

''The buoyant product prices are helping support some robust cash budgets as part of prospective buyers' due diligence process.''

Farmlands Real Estate South Canterbury branch manager Ian Moore said dairy farms were among those for sale.

''Interest is building. We're getting more interest now than we've been getting for many months,'' he said.

''We're just waiting to see some decent sales to see where values are.''

The dairy industry was also starting to show some stability, which helped, he said.

While South Canterbury farm listings were prevalent, Mid Canterbury's had levelled off.

This followed an active pre­Christmas season, likely the result of Government direction on offshore investment, Property Brokers regional rural manager South Island Mark Lemon said.

He blamed uncertainty over Government statements, especially when it came to offshore investment.

The Government tightened legislation for property sales to overseas investors last year and had restrictions in place on sensitive land.

Mr Lemon said once the price of a dairy farm went over $9 million, the number of active buyers was limited.

There was still interest in properties, but the corporate buyer was not there. It was more local buyers — people close to the property, he said.

''It's a strategic buy for some people.''

Mr Lemon said the farm sales market in the district was very busy before Christmas, although since then the market was ''ticking along, not super active''.

The agency had sold more than 20 rural properties since the start of July, Mr Lemon said.

- by Alexia Johnston and Toni Williams

Central Rural Life