English Estates & Farmland Market Review – Spring 2022
Agricultural land values in England have reached their highest level since 2016, with the majority of farms and estates now selling for at, or more than, their guide price.
The average value of arable land is currently at £9,500/acre – a rise of £100/acre since the end of 2021. This is 2% higher than a year ago and not far off the values seen at the peak of the market in 2014/2015.
The average value of pasture is £7,500/acre, which is also 3% higher than 12 months ago.
Of course, averages do mask that there is still wide variability in the prices being paid, dependent on location and the level of local interest, but the trend over recent quarters has been one of growth.
Our data also shows that 73% of farms marketed in the past 12 months sold at or for more than their guide – the highest level since 2014.
High values are being fuelled by strong demand, coupled with a shortage of farms and estates up for sale.
Demand continues to outweigh supply, leading to stiff competition for the best properties.
We are expecting more land on the market this year than during 2021. The end of Covid-19 lockdowns is one factor – people are starting to feel more confident about pressing ahead with a sale.
The high prices being achieved are also starting to entice people to sell if they are at retirement age and have no successor. We are certainly having more conversations along those lines.
However, it seems unlikely that supply will increase so much as to significantly change the balance of the market, given the level of pent-up demand for farms and estates.
“All farm types are selling in the East of England, but it is commercial farms which are proving most popular. There has been a distinct shortage of fully serviced farms for some time, with the market being dominated by blocks of bare land. However, we do expect to see more land coming to the market this year compared to 2021, with the ending of the Basic Payment Scheme acting as a catalyst for some people to take retirement. Demand is likely to remain strong, with those already looking for farms being joined by new buyer types who are keen on land ownership for reasons such as diversification and lifestyle. Prices are currently ranging from £7,750/acre to £11,000/acre, dependent entirely on location, land quality and strength of local buyers.” Tim Fagan, Eastern Region.
“There has generally been a lack of supply onto the open market in South East England, with the trend continuing for people wanting to market their farms privately. Properties that have come available have been a mix of equestrian, arable, and amenity farms. We have seen a number of buyers with funds to spend as a result of selling development land and with commercial arable farms in short supply, those that have come to the market in recent months have received keen interest. A 200+ acre residential farm with nominal compromises, an environmental aspect and guided at a competitive price would also receive a lot of interest on the open market. Prices are currently averaging around £9,000/acre for arable land and £7,300/acre for pasture land.” Liza Howden, South East Region.
“There have been a few farms for sale off-market in the East Midlands during the first quarter of 2022, which is an increasing trend, particularly during the winter months. It does make it so important that anyone in the market to buy a farm does contact us, so we can alert potential buyers to these private opportunities. The market in this region is largely driven by buyers who have funds following the sale of development land who are seeking 500-800 acre farms – which have been in short supply. Prices are currently averaging around £8,400/acre for arable land and £8,000/acre for grassland, but this region has the widest range in values depending on location. We have a number of opportunities coming up in the next quarter so please contact us if you would like to be kept informed.” Sam Holt, East Midlands Region.
“Launches have been largely limited to smaller residential farms and bare blocks of land during the first quarter of the year, at a time when demand is strong. Farms with a good house, buildings and land in an attractive location are proving popular – particularly if they have potential for alternative income streams. Prices are ranging from around £8,500 to £10,000/acre for arable land and £7,500 to £9,000/acre for pasture. Our expectation is that values will hold firm over the coming months given we have rollover buyers looking for commercial farms and lifestyle, leisure and green investors are also still very active.” Juliette Burt, Central and West Midlands region.
“The farmland market has been slow to get going this year in the North and there is still a complete lack of supply of new farms coming to the market. Despite this, land still has to be correctly priced and in the right location to sell. Large blocks of arable land, particularly those equipped for modern farming practices, continue to be attractive to green investors, amenity buyers and landowners with rollover money from development. It will be interesting to see what impact the combined problems of the phasing out of BPS, along with the hike in fertiliser, feed and energy prices will have on the farmland market this year.” David Slack, Northern Region.
“Rollover buyers, carbon investors and developers are continuing to drive demand in the South of England for farms with large acreages (500+). We continue to see a shortage of stock – although recently there has been an increase in the availability of small blocks of bare land and we are launching two new farms at the end of April, which are likely to attract strong interest. At the top end, arable land is achieving up to £15,000/acre and pasture land up to £12,000/acre, with the highest prices being paid where there is immediate local demand or competition between neighbouring farmers.” Gabriella Placidi, Southern Region.