Slow start to year for East Anglian farmland sales

East Anglian farmland. Picture: STRUTT & PARKER

East Anglian farmland. Picture: STRUTT & PARKER - Credit: Strutt & Parker

The number of farms publicly marketed in East Anglia and across England during the first three months of the year fell, with poor weather delaying some launches and others choosing to market their land privately, estate agents say.

Strutt & Parker’s Farmland Database showed only 18 farms of more than 100 acres were marketed in England in the first quarter of 2018, compared with 21 from January to March in 2017 and 23 in the same quarter of 2016.

Michael Fiddes, head of estate and farm agency, said: “Poor weather has contributed to a slow start to the year, both in terms of the number of new farms being publicly marketed and sales actually being agreed.

“However, despite this there are early signs pointing to the market remaining pretty robust, with our data showing average prices are higher than they were at this time last year and a number of new launches since the start of April.”

The database shows that the average price of arable land sold in Q1 2018 was £9,800/acre - the same level as in Q4 2017 and similar to the prices last seen in 2016 when demand for land was stronger.

But the range in prices paid has narrowed ranging from £6,800 to £12,000.

“It is always difficult to draw firm conclusions about the farmland market based on Q1 data because we are inevitably dealing with a relatively small dataset given the majority of land launches in the middle six months of the year,” he said. “Our feeling is that in terms of prices, the year has started in much the way the last one ended.”

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Giles Allen, partner on the eastern estates and farm agency, said very little land came to the open market in the East of England during the first three months of the year.

“I am expecting supply levels to stay low in the immediate future. A feature of the current market in East Anglia, however, is that considerably more land is being sold privately,” he said. “Most of the land which was launched during 2017 has now sold, with prices typically ranging from about £7,500/acre to £9,750/acre. The best prices are being paid for easily-accessible land, with medium to long-term development potential. Demand remains strong and we have seen a significant increase in the number of buyers with proceeds from development land sales looking for farmland which is eligible for Capital Gains Tax rollover relief.”