Several sheep and beef farms nationally and locally have sold recently, and a lift in prices suggests confidence in the sector remains strong.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold says, in contrast to the dairy sector, sheep and beef farmers are thriving.

"Record prices for lamb and a strong, stable beef schedule indicate that farmer confidence is likely to continue through an active autumn in the rural property market.

"In some districts, particularly the upper North Island, sheep and beef property values have lifted by as much as 15 per cent in 12 months, with even more substantial rises in the better-located areas.

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"Meanwhile, fringe dairy operations in some localities only require a moderate price adjustment, and the de-commissioning of the dairy shed, to attract sheep and beef operators.

"Previously there has been a large gap between property values for the two sectors. While a difference remains, it is smaller than it has been in the past," he said.

Regions where significant sheep and beef property activity has taken place recently include west Waikato, the King Country, here in Hawke's Bay, North Canterbury and South Otago.

Tahuna, a 580ha farm in Central Hawke's Bay, changed hands in early November and was bought by a local farming family after a tender process.

Brookfields, a 241ha farm in Te Pohue, sold just before Christmas firm on current values.

Newbold said one thing that might hold back sheep and beef property transactions during autumn was the sector's own strength.

"With the positive fundamentals in the red meat sector, some farmers who might otherwise consider selling will be tempted to hold on and reap the cashflow rewards from the returns on offer.

"This may not be wise," Newbold said.

"Farmers pondering retirement would be well advised to act now in order to capitalise on the many willing buyers looking for quality farms this autumn.

"Timing is everything," he said.