UK: Spring sees farmland sales lift

Elm House Farm at Hoxne, which comes with 147 acres, has just been launched onto the market by Clark

Elm House Farm at Hoxne, which comes with 147 acres, has just been launched onto the market by Clarke & Simpson, and is being sold by private treaty, either in lots or as a whole - Credit: Archant

While nationally farmland sales were on the up this spring, after reaching an all-time low in 2012, the picture in the east was somewhat different.Meanwhile, there appears to be a growing gulf in farmland values, with low quality land faring worse, and high quality land much in demand

MORE than 50% more land was marketed nationally this spring compared to the same period last year, but the increased sales will not satisfy demand, a study shows.

Meanwhile, there is a growing gulf between the value of good quality and poorer quality farmland, experts says.

Rural property consultants Smiths Gore said while more farmland was marketed nationally this spring, activity within the East of England bucked the trend with 15 farms for sale in the first quarter of 2013, equating to 2,900 acres of land, compared to 17 in 2012, which equated to 4,400 acres.

It points out that 2012 had the least land marketed on record, so the amount now for sale remains comparatively low in what is traditionally the farmland market’s busiest period.

Overall, there was a 33% increase in bare land sales, 71% increase in equipped farms (or farms with buildings) and a 64% rise in all land sales.

Sam Tydeman of Smiths Gore’s Newmarket office said: “Although the 2,900 acres have been marketed, this is still 1,500 acres less than in the same period last year in the eastern region. Our analysis shows that between 15-25% of all the land marketed throughout the year is advertised in these six weeks so we continue to expect around 100,000 acres to be marketed nationally this year. Good quality land in the east is still relatively hard to come by and when it does come to the market, the market is competitive.”

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There were large differences between the regions, the Smiths Gore analysis showed . The most active regions were the south eest and central south, with 9,600 acres for sale, compared with the north east and north west, where just over 1,000 acres were marketed.

In terms of farmland value, James Brooke, a partner at Bidwells estate agent, who is based at the Norwich office predicted the two or even three-tier land market would become even more pronounced for the remainder of 2013.

There was a “growing gulf” between land on which genuine money was made, excluding subsidy, and poorer land with restricted cropping ability.

“Whilst we have seen increases in value for the former, there may be more disappointing results for the latter,” he said.

“High quality, highly productive land capable of producing consistently good yields will maintain current levels and in competitive situations, perhaps exceed them,” he said. Demand won’t be as great for lower quality land, he predicted.

Elm House Farm at Hoxne, which comes with 147 acres, has just been launched onto the market by Clarke & Simpson, and is being sold by private treaty, either in lots or as a whole. Also new to the market is 245 acre Cowlinge Hall Farm, near Newmarket, which comes with a price tag of £2.55million through Bidwells.

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