Calm your farm: stress-free farm buying tips

The pathway to owning a farm isn't as simple as it once was. Farms aren't only to be inherited by children or favoured employees anymore - clever aspiring farmers are finding ways to purchase their own land.

Owning your farm can be extremely rewarding and offers a distinctive lifestyle, but it can also be pretty confusing for first timers because there's more to know than with residential property. To help you feel ready for your first farm purchase, here are some stress-free buying tips:

1. Land or business?

You first step should be deciding what you're looking to buy: bare farmland or an entire business?

Bare farmland is fairly self-explanatory. You'd be looking at large sections, either currently empty or to be vacated, possibly with a house on site. There's no official distinction between lifestyle or rural land - but farmland will typically be considerably larger than a lifestyle block to accommodate livestock and/or crops. When buying bare land, be sure to look into existing covenants and zoning restrictions to ensure there are no legal obligations stopping you from using the section for farming.

On the other hand, purchasing a farming business will typically involve more than just land and home - you might also be buying assets such as livestock and equipment. This may be the faster and easier way to get started with your farm, but will typically cost you more upfront. It's not uncommon for the land to be owned by the vendor and the plant and equipment owned separately by their farming business. Ask the real estate agent exactly what you're buying and make sure it aligns with your plans.


2. Getting finance

The entry price to farm ownership is larger than your typical residential property, so it does take some creativity to finance your first farm purchase.

A number of New Zealand banks may be able to help you structure your farm purchase. There are now a range of different ways you can build up the capital for a purchase, including:

  • Investing in residential property
  • Investing in bare land to use for grazing and later incorporate in your farm deposit
  • Leasing farmland with an option purchase in the future
  • Share farming arrangements
  • Equity partnerships

Speak with a rural finance manager at your bank to find out what they can do for you. Some banks may have networks with interested investors for equity partnerships, or be able to advise on the best ownership and share acquisition structures for your situation.

Many banks also offer farm startup packages, offering great benefits for farmers to reduce costs during the farm's formative years.

If you're planning to use your farm for commercial dairy purposes, you'll need to look into options for supplier relationships. Supplying Fonterra, for example, typically requires a purchase of shares equal to the number of kilograms of milk solids supplied. Programs such as MyMilk may offer short term share-free supplier relationships, helping to reduce start-up costs and get your farm business up and running.


3. Finding a property

Buying the right rural land for your farm might not happen straight away, as sections or businesses within your preferred regions may not yet be on the market. There's no need to rush into finding your ideal property, as patience gives you extra time to strategise and find finance.

You can stay in the know about the latest entries to the rural property market in your area by subscribing to searches here on Use our easy search interface to determine the parameters of your ideal farm and simply click "Save search to get updates". This will give you email updates periodically according to your preferences, helping you keep an eye on the market without interrupting your daily routine.

Buying a farm requires a lot of know-how and clarity around what you want, but it can be so rewarding when you have the right people on your side helping you find the land to make the dream reality. Begin your farm buying journey today by signing up to

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