Buoyant Scottish land values beat England’s in price stakes

Land values in Scotland have overtaken those in England and the bull run is set to continue into 2007, according to Charles Dudgeon of Savills’ Edinburgh office.

Mr Dudgeon said higher residential values south of the border meant English farms would still cost more overall, but Scottish bare land was racing ahead. This had only happened before in 1984 and 1997, he reckoned.

“With bare-land bids of up to £8000/acre for prime arable land, prices of over £4000/acre are regularly being experienced,” he said.

Prices had remained flat during the first half of the year, but had started to overhaul those in England at the end of June. “I think our prices moved quicker because, psychologically, English farmers felt held back by the SFP debacle.”

Growing Irish interest was one of the main factors driving up values, said Mr Dudgeon, but Scottish farmers, buoyed by improved beef and cereal prices, were also very active. “That gives me some encouragement. If it was just Irish interest I would be worried.”

A continuing lack of farms was also helping to support values, he said. “Even factoring in private deals, less land came to the market on the first nine months of this year (36,500 acres) compared with 2005 (37,000 acres).”

Scandinavians were also showing more interest, added Mr Dudgeon, who said he had sold a 700-acre mixed farm privately to a Danish buyer. “Whether this is the beginning of a trend is too early to say.”

Allan Paterson of Castle Douglas firm Wallets said there had also been Danish interest in 990-acre Mark Farm, near Newton Stewart.

Mr Paterson launched the commercial livestock unit last month and said there had been phone calls from Surrey to Inverness as well as further afield. “For the properties we’ve been offering this year between Castle Douglas and Stranraer, the Irish share of the interest has been about 40%.”

Scottish prices were likely to continue rising in 2007, said Mr Dudgeon. “There is no sign of the market slackening off. In the past five or six years the spring market has taken its lead from the autumn.”