Matthew Sudlow of Strutt & Parker outlines what the key features of the South East land market were in 2014 and predicts what 2015 could bring.
2014 market – key features
The recent trend of less and less land being transacted across the South East continues: The Strutt & Parker farmland database shows 64% fewer acres sold on the open market compared with 2012. There have only been three completed sales of more than 500 acres across the region this year and one of those was a let farm, an unusual type of property for this part of the world.
- Lack of supply continues to underpin land values.
- Lifestyle buyers are becoming more active again.
- Concerns over a potential mansion tax is more of a worry in this region compared with other parts of England.
2015 outlook – main market influences
The general election is often overhyped by the media, but I think in this part of the world it certainly will have an effect given the amount of residential farms and lifestyle purchasers.
2015 outlook – what will happen to land prices?
Prices will remain the same and possibly increase for any larger blocks of land (350 acres or more) which will attract investors as well as farmers. There would have to be a significant increase in acreage for supply to outstrip demand, resulting in a decrease in land values.
How much land will come on to the market in 2015?
Given the residential nature of most farms in this region, I expect the acreage available will stay similar, at least until after the general election. Once the election has passed we may see an increase in acreage available depending on the new government policies.
Easiest farm or land to sell in 2015
A commercial ring-fenced block of cereal land between 350-1,000 acres, ideally within an hour from London. A shoot would be a bonus.
Most difficult farm to sell in 2015
Most difficulties can be overcome, but a more tricky farm to sell would be where infilling of waste material has taken place. This poses the risk of possible contamination, which can put some buyers off.