Land prices soften, but good sales abound

Average land values across England are now £5060/acre, according to Knight Frank‘s latest Farmland Index.

The figures show prices decreased slightly in the third quarter, as farmer optimism shrank after a fall in commodity prices, rapidly rising input costs and a “disastrous” harvest.

The firm predicted prices could slide by a further 5% over the next year, with purely commercial farmland with little neighbouring interest most tested. “Despite this, we are not expecting the sort of falls seen in the other sectors,” it said. Banks still viewed farmland as a “safe asset” to lend against and the availability of land remained historically low.

“Although the selling price of agricultural land has pegged back a bit, the market is still brisk,” said Anthony Bolton of Woolley & Wallis. “We still have good buyers on our books, mainly proper farmers now, who are free to purchase without the distraction of the so-called city buyers who have largely gone to ground.”

The firm recently sold the 150-acre Homestead Farm on the Isle of Wight, jointly with Christopher Scott, “off market” to a Hampshire farmer for its £1.5m guide. Shortly before, Lower Farm at Higher Ansty, with 125 acres of grassland and a “large but tired” farmyard in Dorset, was sold for £850,000 and Barnhayes Farm, a 245-acre dairy farm, also in Dorset, completed for a figure above the £1.5m guide.

The firm is now quietly marketing a 300-acre dairy farm in Wiltshire, and a 180-acre stock farm in Dorset.

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