The pre-Christmas lull in land markets may have been exacerbated by the current economic uncertainty, but there are still strong signs that buyers are out there and willing to invest, according to a south-west agent.
“I am convinced there is a bit more confidence coming back in, and a desire to do something,” said Alex Rew of Stags in Exeter, Devon. “There are fewer buyers, but they are very serious.”
Mr Rew agreed sales on two farms last week – Moorhouse Farm at Upton, near Taunton, Somerset, and Bigport Farm at Dunsford, near Exeter.
Set in 112 acres on the edge of Exmoor National Park, Moorhouse has a large house in need of refurbishment. Most of its £1m guide is tied up in the house and after 44 separate viewings, it eventually sold as a whole.
The sale took some weeks to tie up because buyers had been quite “cagey”, said Mr Rew, but it demonstrated there could still be good interest in residential farms. “It has been a harder year for residential farms than commercial ones. Anything with good-quality land or a decent acreage has sold the best.”
Such sales include Kemp Farm, an Exmoor hill farm in a 347-acre ring fence, which exchanged recently for more than its £2m guide. It was bought by a non-farmer who planned to farm the land. Similarly, a sale was agreed last week for Bigport Farm, with 92 acres and an agriculturally-tied bungalow, to someone who planned to start farming there. “There are still non-farmer buyers around,” said Mr Rew.
Another example was the 160 acres of prime Grade 2 land at Copse Farm near Bridgwater, Somerset, which found a local market fuelled by rollover money from development in the area. It was bought by a local farmer for more than its £2.5m guide. “I think there is a change in the air. It’s not all bad news,” said Mr Rew.