Delayed Scottish farmland market finally grinding into life

Scottish farms are finally entering the market after poor spring weather delayed photographs and marketing plans in the first four months of the year.

Publicly marketed acres are down by nearly a third on 2017, but a number of May and June launches have surfaced.  

Agents say buyers are poised and tight supply is already leading to healthy competition.

See also: More than 3,000 acres hit spring farmland market

Most of the 4,000 acres on the open market from January to April were bare blocks and small farms.

Earlier this month Strutt & Parker launched 220-acre East Bowhouse at Leslie in Fife at offers over £1.5m, but it acknowledged that supply has been slow.

Associate director William Dalrymple said: “It has been relatively quiet compared to last year, however 2017 saw some exceptional early spring launches.

“With the exception of three farms, all those marketed in Scotland so far this year have been under 250 acres, which shows us that it is the smaller, less profitable units which are being sold.

“It is still early in the season for Scottish sales though, and there are some interesting farms in the pipeline.”

Savills agreed that the market had been slow to get underway following a wet winter and slow spring.

The firm’s director of rural agency, Evelyn Channing, predicted restricted supply would remain.

“It feels like volume will again be constrained this year – we are certainly not expecting to be awash with farms,” she said.

“There are a number of estate sales which will include in-hand land and farming opportunities. I definitely perceive that buyers are poised to spring into action.”

Sales already agreed

Strong demand from fast-moving buyers has been evident in Ayrshire.

Bob Cherry, partner at Galbraith, said two farms he brought to the market in March – 140-acre Roughdyke Farm at £795,000 and 112-acre MacQuittiston Farm for £585,000 – both went under offer in late April. 

“The market for farms and farmland in Ayr is still strong, despite the atrocious weather we have experienced over the past couple of months,” he said.

“Our approach is to consider dividing farm sales into lots, where appropriate, to open up the sale to a wider pool of buyers.”

New to market 

Farms of reasonable scale have been hard to come by so far this year, but Savills has two to launch. 

Elphinstone Tower Farm, East Lothian

Elphinstone Tower Farm, East Lothian

Elphinstone Tower Farm has 450 acres in the heart of East Lothian, 12 miles from Edinburgh.

Offers over £3.25m as a whole, or in three lots, are invited for the arable unit, which includes buildings and a two-bedroom cottage.

“We are anticipating strong interest from both the local market and buyers from south of the border looking to Scotland for scale,” said selling agent Luke French.

Further north, lying south of the Angus Glens at Fern, 350-acre Balquhadly has just hit the market.

Balquhadly, Angus

Balquhadly, Angus

It could attract livestock farmers or those looking to create a mixed unit from arable ground plus temporary and permanent grass.

Conservation and amenity value comes in the form of four duck-flighting ponds, and there is a good range of buildings and farmhouse for £1.2m.

About a quarter of land brought to the market in Scotland this year has been in Aberdeenshire and Galbraith has just launched 178-acre Scurdargue, near Huntly.

Scurdargue, Aberdeenshire

Scurdargue, Aberdeenshire

The mixed unit has been focused on arable production, growing wheat and spring barley alongside some permanent pasture.

Well equipped with modern buildings and a four-bedroom house, a guide price of offers over £695,000 has been set.