A review of the South West farms and land market
Mon 3 February 2020
Stags Head of Farm Agency, George Alder, reflects on the 2019 farmland market and looks ahead to what the future might hold.
At the start of the year we – together with the rest of the country – would have been forgiven for being a little pessimistic about the 2019 farm and land market. However, 2019 proved to be surprisingly positive with a combination of committed buyers and a limited supply. So why, despite the ongoing political uncertainty, has there been a thriving market? Firstly, there has been an equal balance between the number of buyers looking for farms and the number of farms available to purchase. Secondly, it was very apparent that buyers were still taking a long-term view when considering purchasing a farm, despite short-term uncertainty.
We have also seen a noticeable increase in non-farming buyers seeking farms for lifestyle reasons. Such buyers have been particularly drawn to parts of the South West close to the coast or on Exmoor, Dartmoor or Bodmin.
Turning to land sales, farmers continue to dominate buyers seeking land for expansion and the market has been very localised with an increasingly varied set of prices across the South West. Prices of agricultural land have ranged from £4000 per acre to £12,000 per acre, with the best land continuing to attract a premium.
: a mixed livestock farm extending to 305 acres with a Grade II-Listed Devon longhouse, courtyard of versatile traditional farm buildings, modern buildings and a mixture of arable, pasture and woodland. Sold in two lots, the main farm with approximately 295 acres sold to an expanding dairy farmer who will be making further investment with a brand new dairy set up, while a parcel of approximately 11 acres was sold to an amenity buyer seeking land for conservation.
: a versatile commercial farm with extensive farm buildings and two residential properties sold to a buyer from Suffolk requiring a diverse holding to make produce for their farm shop. Situated near Wellington in Somerset, Tremlett Farm with two properties, approximately 42,000 sq. ft of farm buildings, productive run of Grade 1 land, pasture and woodland along with river ownership of the River Tone saw interest from commercial farm buyers seeking a unit either to continue with pig fattening or adapt the versatile buildings to other agricultural uses.
: a private commercial livestock farm with extensive livestock buildings set within approximately 240 acres sold to a buyer from Gloucestershire. The combination of extensive ex-dairy buildings and a productive run of arable pasture surrounding the farm buildings in an accessible location saw a buyer relocate from Gloucester to West Devon. The new owner was seeking a quality livestock farm in an area known for grass growth, as well as being accessible to a number of markets and the A30.
: a residential farm with two desirable homes and 118 acres set in a sought-after East Devon valley sold in four lots to a combination of residential, agricultural and amenity buyers. Tottiskay Farm came to the market in the autumn of 2019 and was marketed as a whole and in seven lots. Our Honiton office saw substantial interest in the residential elements due to the desirable location and its close proximity to Honiton and Colyton. After four weeks of marketing, best offers were taken on the two residential properties and the land was negotiated to two local buyers, one seeking land for expansion of a farming business and the other seeking woodland to provide amenity and sporting attraction. Having agreed the sales in November they were swiftly dealt with by the solicitors and completed in January 2020.
: this residential farm with farming, sporting and equestrian appeal set in a peaceful location in Mid Devon. The charming residential farm gained interest from buyers throughout the country, attracted by its traditional Devonshire longhouse surrounded by its own land made up of a mixture of pasture, arable and woodland. The successful purchaser was drawn to Cobley Farm to satisfy the requirements of the buyers – one liking fishing on the River Dulch and the other requiring versatile farm buildings and land for their equestrian business.
Predictions for 2020
This year is set to be an interesting time for agriculture. With the new Agriculture Bill going to parliament, DEFRA Secretary Theresa Villiers has stated, “We want the new scheme to deliver value for money as well as boosting sustainable productivity to support farmers in their work of feeding the nation. Our proposals for environmental land management will be one of the most important environmental reforms for 40 years.”
In addition to the Agriculture Bill, we are all anxious to find out the future trading arrangements for agricultural products – both export and import – with the EU and other countries.
My prediction for 2020 is that we will see more confidence returning to the market, creating good levels of demand for farms and land, and that prices will remain firm.
Stags Farm Agency department provides coverage and advice on all types of land and farms throughout the South West. If you require advice on rural properties, large or small, please feel free to contact a member of our team