Lincs property firm JH Walter is about to launch the first farm to be put up for sale in the East of England this year.

Oxford House is a commercial arable unit near Louth that comes with a five-bedroom house, 450 acres and an 1800t grain store.

Agent Tim Atkinson has guided the unit at 1.35m and said it might tempt someone looking to start a mixed farming operation in the area.

“It was a dairy farm in the 1960s and grows good grass.”

More farms are likely to follow Oxford House, according to the region’s agents.

But they are not predicting a flood.

“We’ve had three years of the mid-term review hanging over us and people who have delayed selling may well come to the market,” said Mr Atkinson.

However, land values were firming and there would be enough demand, including interest from Irish and Danish farmers, to soak up the extra availability, he added.

“There has been a lot of frustrated buyers.”

Chris Leney at the Ipswich office of Robinson & Hall said:

“It’s a difficult one to gauge.

We’re not going to see the acreage double but there could be 10-15% more in Essex and Suffolk.”

If that happened, prices might start to slip from the “high 2000s” an acre, he reckoned.

“People are starting to get to grips with the SFP and national reserve letters are hitting their desks.

Once they see what they are going to get it could be a trigger whether to sell or stay in farming.”

Mr Leney predicted the two-tier market, which he said had started to emerge last year, would continue.

“Farms with a good house have been selling relatively easily, but a 300-acre block of soil with little neighbour interest might stick a bit.”

In Norwich, Savills agent Christopher Miles agreed.

“Smaller blocks of land with no amenity may struggle.

Farmer interest is thin at the moment, but there are quite a lot of non-farmers who are looking around.”

Overall, Mr Miles expected the amount of land for sale in East Anglia to rise by about a fifth this year.

“I’m already aware of 100% more than I was at this time last year.”

Three decent farms in Norfolk and north Suffolk were in the pipeline for the firm, he added.

andrew.shirley@rbi.co.uk