In the rare event that a large holding comes to the market in Northern Ireland, high demand from non-farming buyers pushes prices to a premium.
The majority of farms of more than 100 acres are bought by people currently involved in agriculture but supported financially by a second, more profitable business, said James Butler, head of country agency at Savills.
These purchasers are also willing to be flexible about location in order to secure scale, especially within a single block.
See also: Land in your area: Wales
“Typically, the average size of each farm or block of land offered for sale is about 35 acres, with between 0.5% and 1% of the province’s total area of farmland coming to the market each year,” says Mr Butler.
“Usually no more than one farm in excess of 100 acres comes to the market in each county and it is rare for multiple farms of more than 200 acres to be offered for sale throughout the entire province.”
Pressure on farming profits over the past year has continued to bring economies of scale into focus and all large farms offered for sale by Savills in 2019 generated competitive bidding, he said.
Average land values across the country remained steady, though variations remain based on region, infrastructure and the need for capital investment.
The sales success of smaller blocks of land is determined by the demand from local buyers and commitment to realistic pricing by sellers.
“The majority of purchasers are already based in Northern Ireland, and with a strong farming heritage throughout the country we expect demand for land to continue, despite local and international political uncertainty,” Mr Butler says.
“However, an emphasis on scale and quality will be to the fore, and discounts will be applied to farms that require capital investment or lack viability.”
What sold well?
Altahammond Farm, Carrickfergus, in County Antrim was launched by Savills and guided at £1.45m.
The coastal farm includes 124 acres, two properties and a range of buildings.
It sold in lots in excess of the guide price to local farmers.
English farmland market round-up
This week marks the end of Farmers Weekly’s annual regional analysis of the land market across the UK.
Here are some key numbers for the 2019 English land market, compared with 2018:
- 69,200 acres of farmland were marketed – 35% lower than in 2018, 20% below the five-year average and well below the 10-year average of 86,400 acres
- 225 farms were publicly marketed (2018: 260)
- 60 farms were launched in south-west England, the most across England (2018: 59)
- North-east England marketed the least number of farms: 12
- The biggest drop was seen in the southern half of England where the number of farms for sale was down 13% on the five-year average
- The top price paid for arable land was £17,500/acre in the East Midlands (2018: £15,000/acre)
- The average price of arable land was £9,200/acre, unchanged from 2018
- For the past three years, about 30% of arable land has traded at £10,000/acre or more, with about one-quarter selling for less than £8,000/acre. At the peak of the market in 2014-15, almost half traded above £10,000/acre.
- The most expensive grassland was sold for £11,000/acre in Buckinghamshire, south-east England (2018: £15,000/acre)
- The lowest price paid for grassland was £2,800/acre, in Cumbria, north-west England (2018: £3,000/acre)
- About 55% of purchases were made by farmers, below the 10-year average.
Source: Strutt & Parker Farmland Database
If you missed your area’s land information, you can find all the land round-ups here, along with further insights, advice and case studies.