27 July 2001

Quality offerings some relief to Scots market

By Andrew Shirley

SCOTLANDS selling season, delayed by a wet spring and foot-and-mouth, has been given a much needed boost by the recent release of a clutch of good-sized arable farms, but agents claim supply is still extremely tight.

"The apparent surge has to be put in context," says Langley-Taylors Christopher Hall. "Even if around 20 commercial units are now available this represents almost the total supply for the first six months of the year."

This lack of good properties is helping to maintain demand and Mr Hall says there has been plenty of interest in the firms latest offering, Pitmaduthy Farm, an 888-acre stock and arable enterprise, guided at £1m, near Inverness.

"For a purely commercial farm with no real residential appeal the response has been encouraging. There is definitely a core of people who still see farming as their future."

Charles Dudgeon of FPDSavills, who says he is close to striking a deal on two newly launched farms in the Borders, agrees. "Now is a fantastic time to sell, unless you are in a F&M area there is no merit in delaying.

"Buyers, who have been starved of suitable properties since last October, are now coming forward with a vengeance and there are still not enough farms to satisfy demand.

"Hardiesmill and Bartlehill, near Kelso were only on the market for a matter of weeks before going under offer," notes the agent. Both farms run to about 470 acres and were guided at over £1m.

He says only 37 farms totalling 12,860 acres have been offered so far this year, compared to 156 holdings comprising 60,739 acres during the same period in 2000.

Values are reflecting this, and in some areas are up on last year says Mr Dudgeon. "Good quality arable land remains at £2000-2500/acre but on the east coast there seems to be an increasing premium for a good house which is pushing up overall prices."

However, even with increased residential interest and the current downturn in agricultural incomes, he maintains it is still farmers who are the driving force behind the market. "Last year 80% of farm sales were to active farmers." &#42