15 January 1999

Acres put late on market took longer to sell…

By Louise Rose

LAND marketed towards the end of 1998 often took longer to sell than previously, as potential purchasers took advantage of a quieter market.

"Of the land currently available, more than half came on to the market before the final quarter," said Michael Fiddes, Strutt & Parker, "Some 38% of land still available was launched during the main selling season – April to October".

Also more than 32,800 acres were sold between September and December 1998 with a total value of about £94m. Despite the aggregate worth exceeding the 1997 level for the same period a breakdown of farm type shows that arable land values continued to fall.

During the last quarter prices for arable land eligible for arable area payments dipped by 8% to average £2499/acre, but showed a premium of almost 50% over non-eligible land which averaged £1351/acre according to the latest statistics from Strutt & Parker.

However regionally values varied – in the north of England values reflected the biggest drop where the average arable land price fell by 21% to £2190/acre.

"Land values have clearly fallen, but the drop is not as great as those seen in farm incomes because of the external factors affecting land values," said Mr Fiddes. "Over the four quarters of 1998 eligible land was subject to an average quarterly fall of less than 5%".

Also he maintains the supply and demand factor will be critical over the next few months.

*Strutt & Parkers database monitors sales of land in England with a minimum of 200 acres, publicly or privately offered. Total sample size for the year to December 1998 was 95,000, valued at £295m, with arable land values down 12% on the year.