At this time of year, we look forward to the prospects for the agricultural land market. We would normally expect to see the first properties coming to the market by this time, but the big news is that there is very little available. This continues the theme of recent years when supply has been very tight with well-funded purchasers chasing the better farms and blocks of land which become available.
Some observers have predicted that much more land will come to the market this year as a result of the Agriculture Act, increased fuel prices, increased fertiliser prices and increased interest rates. Likewise, it is predicted that buyers will be in short supply for the same reason.
My own prediction is that we shall see little difference from last year. In reality, there is little pressure from the banks for farmers to sell. Meanwhile, there is a considerable number of well-funded buyers who are willing to compete for whatever is available. Smaller blocks of bare land will continue to be dependent upon local interest, which could give rise to a wide range of outcomes. Well-equipped large farms, whether commercial or residential, will certainly attract interest.
Residential Development Land
Many landowners dream of the possibility of releasing a few acres for residential development. We have certainly been able to assist many across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc and beyond, in converting farmland into residential development land worth a multiple of between ten times and one hundred times its agricultural value.
Such sales can be life-changing, often providing a broader range of opportunities for the next generation. However, a lot of time and money has to be invested to maximise potential. There is much to be won and much to be lost. Proceeding in the correct manner is key.
We work with a select list of professional promoters in securing Local Plan allocations with great success. We are always keen to manage the marketing of the land to ensure that best value is secured and also to deal with important matters such as retaining the correct rights to any retained land. The development world is full of sharks and egos and it is important to be well represented.
If you are considering your options and would like to find out how we can help you, then please contact David Jones.
Autumn drilling is all but over, the clocks have gone back and Christmas songs are playing in the shops. It is the time of year to reflect on the year gone by and to speculate what might be in store for 2022.
The past 12 months have seen a constant fight against the weather, Brexit disruptions, soaring fuel and fertiliser prices and continued uncertainty over what will replace the Basic Payment Scheme. As I write, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is in session which could bring unimagined changes to the way in which we farm, with perhaps the greatest threats in the livestock sector. Tax rates, inflation rates and interest rates must surely rise soon to pay for the unprecedented costs of the pandemic.
On the back of such turbulence, surely many farmers will wish to leave the industry. The market should be awash with land and farms for sale with just a few choosy buyers taking their pick if the price is right.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no panic to leave the industry. There has been little land on the market, particularly across central England. If anything, land prices have risen again slightly and the average price for decent arable land might be approaching £10,000 per acre again.
The low supply of land for sale arises from the lack of any pressure from the banks. Farming has been a safe investment for the banking sector with low interest rates and significant asset values. Farmers have used the better years to ensure that borrowings are under control and many now have diversified income, making the farming income less critical. Given all the lifestyle, family and tax advantages of farming, why stop now?
We are also seeing significant money available for investment into farming, largely from development proceeds or from non-farming sources. In difficult times, farmland appears to be a safe investment despite the poor returns. As they say, “nobody is making it anymore”.
Notwithstanding the above, we have seen an enormous range in prices for farmland. Large, fully equipped farms have been in short supply and attract good interest where they are found. However, smaller blocks are very much dependent upon local demand. If the immediate neighbours do not have the funds then some land can become very difficult to sell at any price.
Initial pricing can also be key. A greedy guide price together with unnecessary clawback clauses can kill a sale before it starts, even for a larger serviced block. By the time the pricing is adjusted to a more realistic level, the property will be tainted. The market will assume that there is something wrong with the property.
Frankly, unless interest rates rise, the supply of land will remain limited. We should begin to see more certainty with the new Environmental Land Management scheme and I suspect that much of the oil price spike will dissipate. There will continue to be strong demand from those with the funds and I suspect that the 2022 market will be very similar to 2021. For those looking to exit the industry, the prices and the tax regime will remain favourable. Meanwhile, for those with the funds to buy, there will continue to be good opportunities.
For further information or to discuss your land or farms, please contact David.
We are thrilled to announce that Hugo Bryan joined Robinson & Hall as Assistant Development Surveyor in July 2021.
He studied at Harper Adams University gaining a degree in Rural Property Management. During his placement year Hugo worked for Pilkington Farms Partnership and Fisher German.
He then worked for Harvard Knight and Harvard Knight Construction as Land and Planning Manager, working within the development and construction team. This involved liaising with clients, agents, landowners, architects, planners and councils to develop and construct large scale development opportunities across multiple sectors, particularly in the hospitality and care sector.
Hugo says “I enjoy the rollercoaster of the development game and the excitement gathered when a large deal successfully comes together.”
Hugo looks forward to working within the Land Sales and Strategic Development team on developing his skills, whilst studying towards his APC submission.
Outside of Robinson & Hall Hugo enjoys nice food, wine making, travelling, skiing and sailing.