Hidden Potential Rural (January 2016)

Hidden potential in land holdings

I have often talked about the value in obtaining and holding additional titles.  Whether you have created them intentionally or they have simply come about from the way the farm has grown over the years, there is often hidden value there.

The value has never been more relevant than now, when many Councils are tightening up the rules in relation to subdividing rural land.  This has been highlighted to me by a recent project where a client needed to reduce his gearing and approached me about selling half of a title.  Initially it looked relatively easy, however there were complications and recent changes to the rules meant that it couldn't readily be achieved.

The saving grace was that he owned two adjoining titles as well.  This immediately gave him the ability to realign those boundaries, creating the ideal block to sell.  This block was remote and not without its operational challenges - not a great loss to the property.  The better part of this block could then be retained with the farming operation by means of amalgamation with another title.

A closer look at the opportunities for this property revealed that all the existing titles had historical 'subdivision rights'.  Although these 'rights' couldn't be used on site, they could be sold to landowners in the lifestyle zone.  The end result of this was that they could sell all these subdivision rights for close to $100,000 without disposing of any land what so ever.  This gave them breathing space and provided plenty of time to market and sell the land that they ultimately needed to dispose of. 

Having now disposed of these subdivision rights, which could not be used on site anyway, and boundary adjusting to sell the unneeded land, they had even further potential revealed.  The land they had retained had a significant ecological feature located on it.  This feature, through protection, qualifies the owner for three new 'on site' rural lots!  These lots can be developed at any time in the future, unless the subdivision rules are changed to disallow this.

This example is located in the Western Bay District, however some of these opportunities plus others exist in other areas – perhaps in different forms.  Boundary adjustments can be done in most regions to some extent and some other local authorities have rules allowing title benefits to be moved around.  Outside the Western Bay these opportunities often relate to protecting ecological features or amalgamating titles to produce more sustainable farming properties, however some Councils still allow subdivision without this.  Waipa District has a rule which forces the subdivision rights of high quality land or that with sensitive landscape and ecological values to transfer to less sensitive areas.   

If you wish to clarify the potential of your land or any subdivision strategies please don't hesitate to give me a call.  I am happy to discuss your situation with you to see if it is worth pursuing.

Brent Trail, Managing Director of Surveying Services, specialises in resource consent applications for subdivisions across the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Coromandel.  For further information call 0800 268 632 or email


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theodolite - traditional land surveying equipment
Surveying Services Subdivision Planning Team Vehicle
Mt Maunganui Land Surveying