Strong prices for small blocks of pasture and arable land are being reported at auctions across England and Wales.
Farmer buyers are very active, according to agents, with competitive bidding evident for commercial lots ranging from 11 to 63 acres.
One of the largest auction sales so far this year was carried out by Lincolnshire firm Robert Bell.
It comprised 104 acres of chalky Grade 2 soils at Hameringham on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The land was split into three lots with the largest field at 63 acres. Each was sold separately, with three local farmers paying a total of £1.038m.
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Land agent George Harrison said: “The land market still shows signs of buoyancy for the right farm or where there are keen neighbours.”
Just over 80 acres of arable land was sold in five lots when Cheffins auctioned the Leonard Estate in Ely and Soham, Cambridgeshire, in March.
Parcels ranged from two to 40 acres with the latter achieving £310,000.
Smaller blocks of farmland with development appeal achieved strong prices.
Cheffins director Ian Kitson said: “Post-Brexit discussions brought a level of uncertainty to the farming industry during 2016, but the results from the sale will bring some confidence to landowners with both large and small parcels seeing competitive bidding.”
South West England
A non-farming buyer snapped up 33 acres of pasture at Cotleigh in East Devon last month.
A 22-acre block went for £226,000, while the adjoining 11-acre block sold for £125,000.
William Handel, partner at Greenslade Taylor Hunt, said: “The land generated strong interest from local farming businesses together with those seeking alternative investment opportunities.”
Also in Devon, a 19-acre Grade 2 wheat field at Thorverton in the Exe Valley achieved £194,000.
Stags farm agent Andrew Dodds said: “More than ever we are finding that good quality land has an intrinsic appeal. Demand and, as a result, prices are as high as ever for good quality.”
A ring-fenced 47-acre block of arable land at Bradford-upon-Avon in Wiltshire was bought by a local farmer for just over £10,000/acre.
Martin Hemmett, partner at selling agent Cooper & Tanner, said the price showed that continued pressure on farm incomes and a perceived drop in land values since Brexit hadn’t hampered demand in the region.
Dorset auctions have also returned strong prices.
Andrew Tuffin, partner at Symonds & Sampson, said his firm sold 32 acres of river meadow near Dorchester with six acres of woodland for £8,219/acre.
Further east, near Bridport, 48 acres of pasture with a general purpose farm building and areas of coppice sold in lots for a total of £500,000.
Local farmers battled for a 29-acre block of Grade 3 land at Derrington, near Stafford, at a Barbers auction, with the winning bidder paying £364,000.
Senior partner Mike Taylor said: “The eventual buyer was a fruit grower, with the under bidder a large-scale dairy farmer.”
An 18-acre block of good quality Cumbrian grazing land at Hayton, near Aspatria, sold for 12% over its guide price.
It has the potential for year-round cropping as well as mowing, with the winning bidder paying £9,222/acre.
Thomas Armstrong, associate director at H&H Land and Property, said: “Demand for this particular parcel was in the main from farmers who were looking to increase their acreages and sold to a neighbouring farmer.”
Roger Parry & Partners saw 20 acres of permanent pasture in Craigllwyn, near Oswestry, sell well in excess of the asking price, achieving over £9,000/acre.
Partner Richard Corbett said: “We had anticipated strong interest from local farmers. With the correct method of sale and a realistic asking price the land market is still buoyant despite the doom and gloom of Brexit.”
More small blocks of grassland are going to auction next month.
Tayler & Fletcher is selling about 40 acres of pasture near Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire on 7 June. It has a guide price of £565,000 as a whole, or could go in four lots.
On 14 June, Stags will auction about 28 acres of arable land near Brampford, Exeter, with a guide price of £230,000 to £280,000 set.
Cheffins has 8 acres of grass and 29 acres of arable land in Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, going to auction on 21 June guided at £50-60,000 and £160-180,000 respectively.