27 July 2001

Agents quick to back auctions

AGENTS from across the country have sprung to the defence of auction sales after FARMERS WEEKLY revealed that selling publicly appears to be in serious decline (July 13).

"At the moment auctions are our preferred method of selling," says Edward Purkiss of North Yorks firm Mouchel.

"We have had a string of strong results and the feedback from buyers is that they like the system."

The auctioneer recently put a former North Yorkshire County Council dairy farm under the hammer and was delighted with the result which comfortably exceeded his expectations.

Croft Farm, near Minskip, extended to 41 acres and although offered in three lots it eventually sold as one to a local buyer for £410,000.

Mr Purkiss will also be selling Cliff Edge Farm, Pickering, next month (see auction diary) and says there would have to be exceptional circumstance for him not to take a property to auction.

"If I felt a property had a particular feature that would appeal to a unique buyer I might go for private treaty, but in this area I think even a 500-acre arable farm would sell well at auction."

Another 200 acres of NYCC land is lined up for disposal later in the season or early next year, notes the agent.

In the south of England, Dreweatt Neates Simon Pallett also reckons auctions are a good thing. "I am keen on the concept, the great advantage is the certainty on the day, and in a strong market you get the best price."

He believes the trend towards splitting farms is part of the reason for the popularity of private sales. "When a property is heavily lotted it can be complicated to sell at auction, some buyers are put off if they cant get all the lots they want."

Another alternative is a private auction. "I dont like going to best and final offers and nor do purchasers. If we have strong interest from five or six bidders we might conduct an auction behind closed doors."

Mr Pallet concurs with the recently mooted view that some firms may no longer have the capability to run public sales, but says he encourages the next generation of agents to practise the skills. "Even if it is just selling machinery in a field it is good experience."

Further west, Justin Lowe of Somerset-based Greenslade Taylor Hunt reports a pair of successful auction results.

Dark Harbour Farm, Horsington, Wincanton, was originally purchased by Somerset County Council for £54 acre in 1920, but keen bidding from lifestyle buyers boosted the overall value to £40,000/acre.

"This was an ideal property to auction, the property had huge potential for improvement and all the potential buyers had different views on what to do with it."

Good prices were also achieved when brothers Frank and Alan Hoskins decided to dispose of the non-residential elements of Mill Farm, Weston Bampfylde. Just over 34 acres of pasture was bought by the Camel pension fund for £2912/acre, and 127 acres of grass with outbuildings fetched £342,500. &#42