Private deals accounted for more than 65% of farms and farmland handled by northeastern agent George F White in 2013.

Almost all (98%) of bare arable land transactions were handled privately, said the firm. It transacted more than £70m in sales and purchases across 10,600 acres last year, with average values for bare land deals at £6,904/acre.

This compares with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors/Royal Agricultural University Rural Land Market Survey reporting opinion-based prices of bare land in the North East at about £7,000/acre and Knight Frank reporting an average for England at £6,882/acre.

“Bare arable land is at a premium, with some deals nearly reaching the £9,000/acre mark, but also good-quality pasture land holding its own,” said Michael Bell of the firm’s Alnwick office.

“Smaller, less well-equipped hill farms are not as well sought after at present yet could still prove to be a good investment for the right client.”

Privacy for buyer, seller or both is often an important factor but sellers chose private deals for a number of reasons, said Mr Bell. “Often clients want to handle deals off market to remove some of the pressure of selling, to keep an element of control as well as the potential for a premium price over market value.”