The number of large commercial farms coming to market remains low, but the total area offered by large farms has nearly doubled since 2012, according to research by Smiths Gore.

In England, 195 properties larger than 50 acres were launched between 1 January and 15 May 2014 but only 13 offered more than 500 acres, compared with 12 during the same period in 2013 and eight in 2012.

However, the total acreage offered by large farms nearly doubled, from 6,700 acres launched between January and May 2012 to 12,100 acres launched during the same period this year, following the land market picking up from its lull in 2012.

Buyers – both farmers and investors – were still looking for bare blocks of commercial arable land, said Giles Wordsworth, national head of farms and estates at Smiths Gore, and were reluctant to tie up capital in large houses.

“Last year there were a total of 35 farms larger than 500 acres marketed, the majority of these (71%) were properties with vacant possession which would appeal mainly to commercial farmers, 11% were let investment estates and 17% would appeal more to lifestyle buyers due to the value and quality of their principal dwelling. So far in 2014 the proportions have been similar,” said Mr Wordsworth.

The majority of farms for sale which were larger than 500 acres continued to be either arable or mixed farms, with six arable and five mixed hitting the market between January and May this year, compared to just one dairy and one livestock farm.

Smiths Gore’s reviewed all sales of publicly marketed farmland in England over 50 acres, where the residential value of the sale was less than 50% of the total.

See Irrigated farmland offers buyers choice in east

Farms larger than 500acres for sale in England (1 Jan – 15 May) No of sales /acres

Year

Arable

Dairy

Livestock

Mixed

Total

2010

4/4,600

0

1/600

4/2,700

9/7,900

2011

12/8,700

0

3/2,000

7/5,300

22/15,900

2012

3/2,700

0

2/1,200

3/2,800

8/6,700

2013

6/6,000

0

1/500

5/4,300

12/10,800

2014

6/5,800

1/500

1/700

5/5,100

13/12,100

 

Farms larger than 500acres for sale in England -Calendar year No of sales /acres

Year

Arable

Dairy

Livestock

Mixed

Total

2010

17/12,800

0

8/5,600

16/14,700

41/33,000

2011

25/21,400

0

7/4,500

18/13,800

50/39,600

2012

12/9,100

0

6/4,600

15/12,400

33/26,100

2013

14/16,400

2/1,300

4/2,300

15/12,900

35/33,000

Source: Smiths Gore