Farmland values predicted to rise – but quality counts

Darlington and Stockton Times: TWO-TIER: Andrew Black TWO-TIER: Andrew Black

FARMLAND values throughout Great Britain are forecast to increase on average by a further 40pc over the next five years, according to Savills.

Andrew Black, a director based in York, said it will mainly be driven by larger commercial farms with a weaker demand for smaller farms until the residential market revives.

However, even with a limited supply of land on the market, record prices have not been achieved for all land types.

“A two-tier market has evolved within the region in the last couple of years, and it looks likely to be exaggerated going into 2013. A wide range in prices is being achieved, broadly from £5,000 – £12,000 per acre for arable land. These prices are determined as much by competition as by quality.

“We do however believe that 2013 will be another year dominated by low levels of buying and selling. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform is still on the radar, although we are hopeful that we will not have the level of uncertainty regarding the reforms which almost shut down the land market in 2003.

“Whilst a kind spring is also needed to improve sentiment and restore confidence, the considerable demand generated nationally for larger and better quality farms should ensure a strong market for the best, with a wider range in values for the market as a whole.

“As the development market starts to improve, there are farmers with rollover funds now available as well as smaller investors seeking the taxation advantages available from land ownership. Despite current dented confidence and reduced profitability from the bad weather, it is difficult to foresee anything but another similar year to 2012.”

Savills’ research shows that about 134,000 acres of farmland were publicly marketed in Great Britain last year – 14pc less than in 2011 and 50,000 acres less than in 2008.

England accounted for 88,000 acres of the total which was 24pc less than in 2011. The North of England saw just under 22,000 acres advertised – ten per cent less than in 2011 – and Yorkshire had almost 10,500 acres marketed, just over 300 acres more than in 2011.

A county breakdown of publicly marketed land of more than 50 acres in 2012 compared to 2011 saw decreases of 33pc in Northumberland; 47pc in the East Riding; 55pc in Lancashire; 61pc in South Yorkshire; 0.4pc in North Yorkshire.

A 257pc increase to just under 3,000 acres in County Durham was largely due to the sale of the UK Coal portfolio.

Last year Savills publicly marketed 19,560 acres in total – more UK farmland than any other agent.

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