Farmland market made a slow start to 2018, say rural property agents

Farm fields between Seething and Halesworth. Picture: Mike Page

Farm fields between Seething and Halesworth. Picture: Mike Page

Mike Page

Poor weather has contributed to a slow start to the year for the farmland market – but prices remain stable, said rural property agents.

The number of farms publicly marketed across the country fell during the first three months of 2018, with the weather delaying some launches and other vendors choosing to market their land privately, according to Strutt and Parker.

The firm’s Farmland Database shows that during the first quarter of 2018 only 18 farms of more than 100 acres were marketed in England, compared with 21 in Q1 2017 and 23 in Q1 2017.

Michael Fiddes, the firm’s 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 national database shows that the average price of arable land sold in Q1 2018 was £9,800/acre, which is the same level as in Q4 2017, with the range of prices paid narrowing, now ranging from £6,800 to £12,000. Pasture prices continue to rise gently, with an average of £8,400/acre.

In the East of England, the best prices are being paid for easily-accessible land with development potential, said Giles Allen, a partner in the firm’s Eastern estates and farm agency.

“Very little land came to the open market in the East of England during the first three months of the year and I am expecting supply levels to stay low in the immediate future,” he said. “A feature of the current market in East Anglia, however, is that considerably more land is being sold privately.

“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.”

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