Farm sales across the country for the year to October were down more than 10 per cent, while dairy farm per-hectare prices have pulled back almost 30 per cent during the past year.

In Otago and Southland, there was strong activity in finishing, grazing and arable properties, but dairy farm purchases in both provinces were affected, with restricted supply of capital.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said for the three months to October there were 263 sales, just two more than a year ago.

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Across the country for the year to October 1475 farms were sold, a 10.5 per cent decline on the same period last year. Dairy farm sales were down 7.7 per cent, grazing farms fell 5.6 per cent, finishing was down 13.2 per cent and there were 22.5 per cent fewer arable farms.

"As outlined in the data for the three-month period ending October, sales activity has been virtually non-existent in the dairy sector, but lifted well in the finishing and grazing categories," Mr Peacocke said in a statement.

The median price per dairy hectare was down 28.6 per cent during the past year.

Across 20 properties sold during the three months to October last year, the per hectare price was $40,012, while across 11 properties sold in the same period this year, it was $28,555.

Arable, forestry and horticulture all recorded slight increases, albeit the latter saw a "distinct easing" in sales. He noted many farms came on the market in October, which meant would-be purchasers would have "unprecedented selection opportunities".

Around Otago, Peacocke said there was "solid activity" on finishing and grazing properties and interest in forestry.

However, the supply of capital was restricted and affecting the dairy market in particular, due to Overseas Investment Office (OIO) criteria being tightened. Similarly in Southland, the OIO criteria had impacted on sales of the larger dairy units, causing "frustration" in some quarters, he said.

There was otherwise light activity in the dairy sector there, where stocks of quality property continued to build, and there was good activity on finishing, grazing and arable properties, from mainly local buyers, Peacocke said.