West Country land market review and outlook

By David Kivell, DR Kivell & Partners

2013 market – key features

The 2013 farm market across the South West was steady. Demand for farms and bare land has been patchy and some farms that have been on the market throughout 2013 remain unsold.

The market for farms is still driven by residential appeal or commercial potential. Where farms fall between these two categories – for example, where the house is not that appealing or the land and buildings are not of a sufficient size and usefulness – there are far fewer interested parties.

2014 outlook – main market influences

I am optimistic that the 2014 farm and land market will be stronger for various reasons:

  • Farmers have generally had a much better year in 2013 – this will make them more optimistic and banks less cautious
  • Resolution of the CAP and more knowledge of the future subsidy structure will make land buyers and banks more confident
  • Uplift in the general property market will have a knock-on effect on sales of farmhouses and 
residential farms

2014 outlook – what will happen to land prices?

Land prices will increase in 2014 by as much as 5% to 10% depending on area, access and land quality, mainly due to improved farming profits in 2013, and less uncertainty about single payment reform.

How much land will come on the market in 2014?

Early indications show more land and farms will come to the market in 2014. With farming appearing more settled and farm bank balances being better than they were this time last year, I see 2014 as being a good year to buy or sell.

Easiest farm or land to sell in 2014

Farms that will move most quickly are well-equipped dairy and arable farms with good buildings and good access to road networks or farms with a quality house and strong residential appeal.

Most difficult farm to sell in 2014

Those with agriculturally tied houses and those smaller than 70 acres.

Sale highlight of the year (pictured above)

Warracott Farm, near Lifton, Devon – a well located, 155-acre quality grassland, stock and former dairy farm with a well-proportioned character four-bedroom farmhouse and extensive range of modern and traditional outbuildings. This was marketed early in the year at a guide of £1.8m with the option to purchase a separate detached cottage with outbuildings. After considerable interest, the farm was purchased by an adjoining estate owner.