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Farmland sales fall due to 'challenging' market conditions, say agents

Farmland sales fell during the first quarter of 2019, says Savills. Picture: Nick Butcher

Farmland sales fell during the first quarter of 2019, says Savills. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

The East of England accounted for 15pc of the farmland put up for sale in the UK during the first three months of this year, according to the latest research by rural agency Savills.

A total of 1,120 acres of farmland were publicly marketed in the region between January and March 2019 - compared with 1,210 acres for the same period last year, a drop of 8pc.

However this figure is up on Great Britain as a whole, which saw a decrease of 28pc when compared to the same period in 2018, with 10,390 acres publicly marketed.

Savills’ quarterly farmland value figures also show that the average value of prime arable land in the Eastern Counties remained relatively stable, falling 0.9pc to £8,690 per acre in the first three months of the year.

Christopher Miles, from the rural team at the Savills Norwich office, said despite challenging market conditions there is still an appetite for well-diversified or high-quality commercial farming businesses.

“The market in the first quarter of any year tends to be relatively small as most sellers prefer to wait and launch their property in the spring so the figures are not wholly unexpected,” he said. “But it does appear that current political and economic uncertainty has slightly muted the supply of land coming onto the market.

“Undoubtedly there are some significant challenges ahead for farming businesses but until the future farming policy is ratified, it is difficult to forecast how the farmland market might be affected.

“It is however very clear that despite wider concerns there is still an appetite for well-diversified or high-quality commercial farming businesses and the best amenity estates. In this tight market, we are getting more calls through our network nationwide and with the continuing weakness in the pound we have seen an increasing number of international buyers on our books.

“Premiums are likely to be paid for top quality properties, where demand is strong from forward thinking farming businesses that are looking to expand existing operations and roll-over investors seeking new opportunities. Meanwhile, non-farming buyers are looking to invest away from riskier asset classes and there is a rise in interest for amenity property.”

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