Colliers International branches out into specialist forestry sales

Leading forestry broker Warwick Searle excited by new role

Colliers International has launched a specialist forestry sales service headed by New Zealand’s leading forestry broker, Warwick Searle.

The new business line expands and strengthens Colliers International’s established rural services offering, which includes nationwide rural, agribusiness and viticulture sales, valuation and advisory services.

Searle has transacted some of the biggest forestry deals in New Zealand, including the bulk of on-market forest sales in the last few years.

He brings almost 10 years of rural sales experience to the role, much of that specialising in forest and forestry rights sales.

“I’ll be providing specialist forestry sales services under the Colliers International brand, which will complement and grow Colliers’ wider agribusiness offering,” Searle says.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to build upon my work to date with the backing of Colliers’ strong global brand, local expertise, and excellent reputation within New Zealand’s agribusiness community.

“I’m also looking forward to working closely with Colliers’ experts throughout the country. The chance to tap into their broad knowledge and deep experience is hugely appealing.”

Mark Synnott, Chief Executive of Colliers International New Zealand, says Searle is ideally placed to lead the new forestry sales service.

“Warwick is undoubtedly the top forestry broker in New Zealand. We’re delighted he has chosen to bring his broad experience, specialised knowledge, and excellent industry connections to Colliers International.”

Synnott says the new service aligns well with Colliers’ strategy of targeted expansion in growth areas.

“We’ve launched a number of strategic service lines in recent years including Site Sales, Business Sales, Capital Sourcing, and Queenstown residential sales,” Synnott says.

“We’re also continuing to expand in key growth areas like Rural and Agribusiness – which is where Warwick’s expertise will prove invaluable.”

Searle will work closely with the Rural and Agribusiness sales and valuation teams in the Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and Canterbury.

He will also work alongside Auckland-based Special Projects Manager Roger Seavill, who boasts extensive forestry sales experience.

Searle says he is optimistic about the forestry sector, and he aims to expand his team with additional brokers this year.

“Overall, the market is in a position of strength. Demand is good, log price prices have been strong for some time, and there’s an appetite among vendors to transact.”

Searle says Government policies around climate change and regional tree planting have “real potential” to have a positive impact on the forestry sector. 

“The key thing is where the capital to buy land and plant trees will come from. New Zealand’s capital is constrained, so we definitely need offshore capital.”

However, Searle says there are question marks around the long-term impacts of the Government’s tightening of foreign ownership rules.

“The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is requiring offshore buyers to meet more stringent criteria, which is delaying existing forestry land purchase applications.

“The Government is also looking to subject forestry rights to OIO approval. Currently, overseas buyers are able to purchase rights to trees, and not the land they grow on, without OIO approval.

“We’ll be watching these developments closely in order to continue to offer the very best service and advice to our clients.”

Searle has a Business degree in Accountancy and Property from Massey University, along with almost a decade of experience in the New Zealand rural property market, most recently with CBRE.

His largest forestry transactions to date include Greater Wellington Regional Council’s portfolio of 12 forests (5,430ha); the Lismore Forest Estate (3,724ha); the Manuka Island Trust Forest (2,411ha); the Craigmore Forest Estate (2,135ha); Mighty River Power’s two Kaituna forests (2,002ha); the Aorangi Forest (1,177ha); and the Queen Charlotte and Onapua forests (1,775ha).

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