Increasing interest in land from investment buyers, funds and private individuals is helping to stabilise the land market, according to agent Knight Frank.
But farmers were also taking advantage of lower land prices and weaker interest rates to extend their holdings, said the firm’s Tom Townshend. “With interest rates being where they are, to have savings in the bank isn’t doing much. Land is still a good solid investment, and the investment market is definitely growing.”
Knight Frank recently launched the Haresfoot Estate, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire – 717 acres of bare land with no buildings or farmhouse included. “We’ve had an amazing response – all the people coming forward are either local farmers or investors,” said Mr Townshend. “Quite a lot of interest has been from developers looking to buy up blocks of land near built up areas.”
The Showsley Estate (pictured), near Towcester, Northamptonshire, was also ideal for commercial farmers or investors, he added. With 1460 acres of land, both let and in-hand; a commercial grainstore, farm buildings and a tenanted farmhouse, the property had the added potential to buy a village with 16 houses by separate negotiation.
“Some people are buying land as a tax vehicle going forward, for inheritance tax purposes,” said Mr Townshend.
Land also offered a low risk, long-term investment to balance high-risk portfolios. “But farmers are also buying now – banks are lending where agricultural land is involved, and it’s a good time for farmers to be looking.”