Land on sale is lowest in five years

The amount of land for sale in England is the lowest in five years, according to a report by land agent Smiths Gore.

In the past year, there has been a 37% drop in the number of acres marketed, with the biggest fall in equipped farms. By the second quarter of 2011, 57,100 acres of land had been put on sale, while over the same period of 2012, just 35,900 acres were marketed.

Equipped farmland dropped by 41% from 49,200 acres marketed in 2011 to 28,800 acres on the market this year. Bare land took less of a hit, with just a 13% drop, from 7,900 acres to 6,900 acres.

The biggest drop in equipped land was in livestock holdings, with a 39% fall to 8,700 acres of land, while arable land fell 32% to 11,300 acres.

The number of equipped land sales dropped by 45% to only 118. The average size of farms and blocks of land for sale has not changed significantly from the previous years so this does not explain the change, said Smiths Gore. Demand from farmers remains strong.

The value of land rose by 2% in the last quarter, with the largest rises in bare land. Bare land values increased for the 10th quarter in a row by 5% to £6,300/acre.

Bare arable land made up 82% of the land marketed in the second quarter of 2012, compared with an average of 50% in the past six years. There was also a much larger number of sales with a guide price of more than £7,000/acre, especially in prime areas in the South East, East and East Midlands into Yorkshire.

Bare livestock land values rose by 4% in the last quarter, but livestock land values are not rising as quickly as arable land, said Smiths Gore.

“The stronger performance of bare land is not surprising as farmer buyers, who continue to be the dominant buyers, look to expand their farming operations but not take on residential property, on which increases in value are less likely,” said Jason Beedell, head of research and author of the report.

“There is growing evidence of a two-tier market; quality land in desirable farming locations continues to sell well, but poorer land in less desirable locations is finding fewer buyers so lotting and the quality of marketing is becoming more important.”