South-west land market bucks trend

LAND AVAILABILITY in the south-west bucked the national trend  by falling almost 8% during the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2004.

Publicly marketed farmland declined across all the region’s counties apart from Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, to a total of 27,775 acres, according to Savills.

This was in marked contrast to availability across England  which rose by a third over the same period.

But the average value of agricultural land in the region rose by 7.4% to £2378/acre – significantly more than the 4.7% rise seen across the rest of the country.

Reasonable grassland has been in particular demand, commanding a 9% premium over the same time last year.

“Supply is pretty short,” said Savills’ Penny Dart. “But we’re seeing more availability for later in the year and next spring. The current short supply is a hangover from the single farm payment – but by next spring people will have finished their 10-month period and established their entitlements.”

Alex Rew of Stags said any farms coming on to the market were experiencing very strong demand. “Viewings are up 30% on last year – the demand is there and farms are still selling well, although we are crying out for big farms, particularly for dairy farmers looking to expand.”

Strutt & Parker’s James Baker said that a shortage of large farms had swayed the supply figures, as there were still plenty of smallholdings on the market.

“Some people are still waiting to get their SFP sorted and I’ll think there’ll be more activity in the spring.” Although values remained firm, buyers were now quite sensitive to price, with any over-priced lots proving hard to sell, he added.