The land market in the North West – outlook

Craig Brough of H&H Land and Property, outlines what the key features of the North West land market were in 2014 and predicts what 2015 could bring. 

2014 market – key features

Bare land has sold very well – principally due to strong neighbour demand, with fully equipped farms slightly slower to move. However, with fewer fully equipped farms coming to the market, values have held up.

Upland land parcels have remained good to sell, and we have seen increased investor interest where land with schemes offers a good return on investment alongside agricultural taxation benefits.

Small parcels of woodland were in high demand during the year; we sold several blocks, with highest interest close to residential areas.

2015 outlook – main market influences

  • Land will be slow to come forward due to the change from the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Scheme transfers may hamper early sales until the new system is up and running.
  • The impending election may hold back some sales due to potential changes in taxation and wariness on the part of sellers.
  • Increases to the moorland and SDA rate may in the short term further fuel the market for investors in upland areas, although uncertainty about future conservation schemes will affect where existing schemes are nearing an end.

2015 outlook – what will happen to land prices?

We expect land prices to hold much the same as 2014.

The very recent increases in land prices have been led principally by expanding dairy units and the tightening of dairy gross margins may temper any further increase in 2015.

How much land will come on to the market in 2015?

We anticipate seeing less land coming to the market in the early part of 2015 while SPS and BPS settles down. However, as the year progresses we would expect a healthy supply to come to the market.

Easiest farm or land to sell in 2015

Good-quality, versatile land in an area of intensive owner-occupier producers. Roadside access and the ability to plough or mow the land will help, with blocks between 20-50 acres likely to create strong demand.

Most difficult farm to sell in 2015

If correctly marketed and priced, all farms and land will sell. Our advice to vendors is to prepare the land and property so it is in prime condition for potential purchasers.

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