Lifestyle or life sentence


Every land owner needs a management plan. It’s time to ask yourself: Are you getting the most from your lifestyle block?

If your land is costing rather than making you money, it’s likely that you’re not.

Doug Croy established his first sheep stud at age 11 and in the half-century since, he’s owned multiple sheep and cattle studs throughout New Zealand and cultivated unique, first-hand knowledge of livestock breeding and farm management.

A substantial back injury in recent years has forced his hand and taking with him the specialist expertise he’s gained over more than 45 years of farming, he’s moved into the business of consulting.

Croy Lifetyle Block Management works with smaller farm and lifestyle block owners throughout Canterbury to advise and help them achieve the best use of their land.

It can provide a complete service that includes budgeting and forecasting, property maintenance, stock management and animal health plans, and more.


Canterbury’s lifestyle blocks: Lifestyle or life sentence?

The amount of lifestyle blocks in the Canterbury region has exploded since the earthquakes.

In the Waimakariri District for example, the number of lifestyle blocks has gone from approximately 500 pre-earthquakes to 3,000 post-earthquakes.
“People in Canterbury have gone through so much and you can’t blame them for wanting to get out of the city,” Doug says.

When you consider that lifestyle blocks used to be productive and semi-productive farming land which has now been taken out of the system, most lifestyle block owners are potentially sitting on arable land they can use to huge personal advantage.

Unfortunately, left to their own devices, lifestyle block owners tend to be living a different reality to the one of which they dreamed.

As a result, a three-year ownership pattern is emerging: In the first year, everyone really enjoys their lifestyle block and it’s a great environment to host the company of family, friends and neighbours; in the second year it starts to become a bit of a chore and by the third year, it’s on the market.

“When you own property in town you can use the weekends to rest and recharge the batteries for the week ahead. Unless you have it well set up, lifestyle blocks don’t work that way,” Doug says.

“It’s just an adjustment lifestylers have to make, but if they do, it rewards them by paying them dividends.”

Doug become acquainted with lifestyle block owners through his sheep studs and selling his stock to those in the market for a few ewes. What would follow was a flurry of questions over how to best manage that stock and before long Doug found himself in the realm of consulting.

He relishes passing his knowledge on to those who wish to get the most out of their lifestyle blocks.

“So many new land owners aren’t aware of the services
and opportunities available to them from lifestyles blocks, as well as the work required of lifestyle blocks.”


What difference does consulting make?

A smaller-sized property does not have the need for a full-time, onsite farm manager or the larger, more commercial-sized equipment required for some tasks.

Your property can run seamlessly using the organisational experience and wealth of knowledge of Croy Lifestyle Block Management as well as its established relationships with others in the industry.

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The process:

INITIAL CONSULT
The first consultation is free. It is an in-person call out, where clients sit down with Doug to determine what their plans are. Some clients have realistic plans, some have ambitious plans and some have no plans.
Doug will then have a walk around the area in question and give clients a brief outline of what he can do to help them. If clients decide to engage any services from this point on, that’s when the clock starts.

INDEPENDENT ADVICE
If managed properly, lifestyle blocks allow for the owner to gain maximum productivity from their land while having the smallest impact on the environment; increasing profits at the same time as lowering costs. “As an independent point of view, I have your best interests at the forefront.”

DETAILING AND MAPPING
The initial focus, once it’s been determined what clients want, is a detailed map of the area. It’s vitally important to know the exact areas in each paddock that are best for pasture, or if there are no paddocks, where to put fencing for paddocks.

BUDGET AND FORECASTING
Specific to clients’ goals, knowledge, time of year and location, a budget is produced detailing the income and expenditure predicted to formulate the process and reach the desired goals and outcomes. “We want to maximise the efficiency and value of your property.”

STOCK MANAGEMENT AND ANIMAL HEALTH PLANS
If clients are looking at running stock, they can be advised which quality breeds are suitable for their land and where to purchase this stock. A customised animal health programme will then be provided so they know exactly what needs to happen to this stock and at what time of year. A land management plan not only benefits the animals but also the condition of your property.

FACILITATION
If clients require contracting work for any services such as fencing, pasture renovating, livestock management, etc, this can be arranged through a network of approved contacts. Once a price has been agreed upon by the client, Doug will oversee the process until it’s done – the client needn’t have to worry. The benefits of consulting and management services far outweigh the perceived cost of engaging them. Especially when the first consultation is free – you’ve got nothing to lose.
“I’m trying to get landowners back to something they dreamed they might have,” Doug says.


Predicting the future of lifestyle blocks

Until the last five years or so lifestyle blocks have been historically cheap – around $180,000 – and quake-safe sections in Christchurch have been going for a similar amount. Many buyers have seen lifestyle blocks as better value for money here.

However, by the time they’ve purchased the bare land and put a house on it they’ve got a mortgage – they don’t have another $100,000 to spend on doing maintenance and/or development straight away.

In town you may be able to get away with putting a hold on things but not on farms. And it can be really difficult to get the bank to lend money for 10 acres worth of land development that you won’t get any revenue back on for 10 years.

“The initial wave of people buying land is slowing down,” Doug says.
“There’s certainly a place for lifestyle blocks but people taking them on need to be realistic and practical. putting a hold on things but not on farms.

And it can be really difficult to get the bank to lend money for 10 acres worth of land development that you won’t get any revenue back on for 10 years. “The initial wave of people buying land is slowing down,” Doug says.

“There’s certainly a place for lifestyle blocks but people taking them on need to be realistic and practical.

“I would hope that the people that are committed to lifestyle farming would heed the advice of people in the area who farmed before them.

“People need to understand that instead of paying for their block, they can have a block that generates up to $5,000/year, which more than covers its rates.”

Contact Croy Lifestyle Block Management for all your small farm and lifestyle block management needs:
• Independent advice
• Budgeting and forecasting
• Property maintenance
• Stock management
• Animal health plans
• Free initial consultation.

Croy Lifestyle Block Management 103 Sladdens Bush Road
RD1 Oxford
027 300 0230
www.croy.co.nz



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