Land acreage on market expected to increase this year

Many decisions about putting land on the market will be made in the next few weeks, according to agents.

Most expect a greater acreage and number of farms to be offered this year than last.

They are quietly optimistic about the market in 2023, but caution that while demand remains very strong, that strength could be tested if land comes to the market in any significantly higher volume.

See also: Land registry backlogs delay land and farm sales

Some early launches are happening, with 192 acres of bare land near Hungerford, Berkshire, coming to the market this week, jointly with Carter Jonas and Knight Frank.

Marketed for a trust that is reorganising its holdings, this consists of three fields of Grade 3 arable land in a ring-fence, with a guide price of £1.8m. 

Retirement sale

In a few weeks’ time, Andrew Chandler, head of rural agency at Carter Jonas, will bring a 950 acre-plus arable, pasture and downland farm south of Marlborough, Wiltshire, to the market in a retirement sale.

A guide price in the region of £10m is expected for this equipped, mixed organic holding, which includes commercial enterprises.

There is a farmhouse with an agricultural occupancy condition (AOC), two cottages, a good principal yard, a second yard with a grain store and a third yard.     

Mr Chandler said that the firm was being asked to look at a lot of farms and land and was expecting a good run of launches this year.

Savills is putting a Buckinghamshire farm on the market next week. This has a strong residential element and traditional buildings with development potential.

Garners Sevenex Farms sits in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, between Prestwood and Great Missenden, and is an executor sale.

It includes 247 acres of mainly arable land, a farmhouse, about 30,000sq ft of semi-modern farm buildings with development opportunities, three cottages with AOCs and a further two cottages.

The soil is a slightly acid loam and clay, with impeded drainage, suitable for autumn-drilled crops and grassland.

The land is in three blocks, with the farm offered as a whole or in up to six lots and an overall guide price of £7.75m.

At Strutt & Parker, head of estates and farm agency Matt Sudlow said that conversations will have been had over Christmas, prompting selling decisions.

With the market in vendors’ favour, some retirement sales had been brought forward, a few prompted by the Lump Sum Exit Scheme.

On the buying side, he said: “We have seen some institutions coming back into the market – some of the colleges and pension funds.”  

Marketing decisions

Some marketing decisions are being held up by economic uncertainty, with higher interest rates and inflation a factor, said Bidwells’ James Wood.

This had made some potential vendors question the true strength of the market.

For potential investment buyers, those higher interest rates have brought better returns from alternative and more liquid investments such as bonds and gilts for those who do not need to borrow to buy land, said Mr Wood.

“Farmland is generally not affected by debt, as it is often bought with cash,” he said.

The better arable returns of the past couple of years may tempt some, who might have considered selling, to hang on for a bit longer, he suggested.

In the south-west of England, Stags’ head of farm agency George Alder launched Nutwell Farm at Raddington near Taunton, Somerset, in early December.

With a guide price of £2.885m, this has 185.5 acres of pasture and arable land with woodland and  ponds in a private location.

The steading sits centrally in the ring-fenced holding, with an unlisted farmhouse needing improvement and traditional stone barns offering potential for accommodation. It has modern livestock housing and machinery/fodder storage buildings.