Hand holding a gavel at auction© Tim Scrivener

Agents in central and southern England are reporting strong results and a growing popularity in auction sales of farmland.

Sale reports show a number of small farms and bare blocks have gone under the hammer in recent weeks, meeting or exceeding their guide prices.

While firms agree the auction route only suits certain sales, anecdotally there is a resurgence in interest from sellers taking their land to the sale room.

Ross Wilmington, a partner at Symonds & Sampson in Dorset, said: “I think auction is a medium that’s growing in popularity and that’s certainly what’s happening in our firm.

See also: Buying and selling farmland: Auction v private treaty

“Looking back, our June auction was one of our best auctions for a couple of years with average land prices over £11,000/acre with seven lots of land sold and we have had a number of good results since. 

“We all thought the heat was going to go out of the land market to a degree but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of that.”

Small blocks command strong interest

Jeff Paybody, partner at Rugby-based Howkins & Harrison, said the majority of auction lots sold by his company this year had been small blocks with strong interest.

But he added that certain sales lent themselves to auction more than others and that each sale should be judged on its merit.

“Our most recent sale saw 19 acres of Grade 3 arable land in Leicestershire go for £11,000/acre and a further 36 acres of arable land nearby sell at £10,000/acre, both to local farming families.

“We haven’t had any big lumps or whole farms to sell this year but if had a 150-acre farm with a run down house and buildings I wouldn’t discourage at selling at auction.

“It opens the door to non-farmer buyers interested in developing the house and buildings as well as farmers who want the land.”

See also: Insurance giant to dispose of 4,200-acre Hampshire estate

Will Kerton, Head of Auctions at Knight Frank has also noticed an increase in interest in taking land and buildings to auction – a trend that he expects to see continuing.

“In the past five years we’ve have made a conscious effort to push to this method of sale so it can be offered to vendors and we’ve had some cracking results.

“We will have held 22 auctions from March to November this year. For the right vendor and the right property it’s an attractive option and I think we’ll see more of it.”

English and Welsh auctions – what’s sold?

Weston Manor Farm, Corscombe, Dorset

Weston Manor Farm

  • A 92-acre livestock farm including traditional buildings and a farmhouse in need of renovation, plus a two-bedroom cottage and 12 acres of woodland. Sold with Symonds & Sampson.
  • Guide price: £925,000
  • Sold for: £1m

Windsor Hill, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Windsor Hil

  • About 149 acres of grassland, the majority of which lies in a ring fence with three off-lying blocks nearby. Some modern livestock buildings plus traditional Grade II listed structures.  Sold by Cooper & Tanner
  • Guide price: £910,000 to £1.045m in eight lots
  • Sold for: £1.441m

Land at Arnesby, Leicestershire

Land at Arnesby

  • About 36 acres of Grade 3 arable land in a single block with good road access. The land is currently in stubble following winter cereals production. Howkins and Harrison.
  • Guide price: £310,000
  • Sold for: £360,000

Land at Hadley, near Ombersley, Worcestershire

Land at Hadley

  • About 58 acres of Grade 3 arable land split in to six fields across two lots – lot one at 18 acres and lot two at nearly 40 acres. Sold through Knight Frank.
  • Guide price: £435,000 as a whole or in two lots
  • Sold for: £491,000

Cwm-y-Rhinwedd, Near Bylchau, Denbighshire.

  • 30 acres of undulating grassland with a natural water supply. Sold by Jones Peckover.
  • Guide price: £100,000
  • Sold for: £100,000