31 August 2001

Strongest bids for smaller lots

THREE auctions in south-east England, Yorks and the midlands produced some good results, but demand appears to have been stronger for the smaller lots on offer.

The largest property to go under the hammer was Spendiff & New Barn Farms, Cooling, Kent. Hobbs Parkers Bill Lightfoot says the 358 acre arable holding, the majority of which was Grade 1 soil, sold well.

However, the sales principal lot – 316 acres and buildings – failed to achieve any bids at the £600,000 guide price. The agent says it was brought privately for "close" to the asking figure immediately after being withdrawn.

"Some people have a strategy of not bidding in the hope of getting a better deal. I think this outcome is a reflection that farmers are now thinking harder and longer before committing to more acres."

However, an agriculturally tied dwelling made well in excess of the hoped for £100,000. Despite being of a chalet-style construction and occupied under an assured tenancy the three-bedroomed bungalow, including 1.6 acres, made £138,000.

"Two people wanted the house and were prepared to pay to get it. Maybe it was the magic of the auction room or they were taking a long-term view," says Mr Lightfoot.

In North Yorks, Mouchel disposed of Cliff Edge Farm, but the sale of the ex-county council dairy holding was not straightforward.

Agent Andrew Purkiss halted bidding for lot one – the house, buil-dings and 13 acres – at £191,000, while the second lot, 62.5 acres of grassland, was withdrawn at £124,000. Bids over £316,000 were invited for the two lots combined and an offer of £317,000 won the day for a former local resident who is planning to return to the area as a "lifestyle" farmer.

Keen bidding from an adjoining farmer helped push up the price for 16 acres of off-lying arable land to £2716/acre. Mr Purkiss says this may have included a small premium because of marriage value to the producer but reckons the sum is not excessive for the area.

"Land has been selling consistently at £2300-2500/acre here." But it is important to offer the blocks in parcels small enough to tempt neighbouring landowners, he adds.

Finally, two farming families helped Howkins & Harrison knock down 93 acres of Warks commercial arable land for an average of £2776/acre. Formerly part of Sharmer Farm, Harbury, near Leamington Spa, one 79 acre block fetched £2538/acre and a further 14.5 acres went for £4077/acre. &#42