Farmland prices on the rise in final quarter

Farm values in England have risen for the first time in more than a year, according to research by Smiths Gore.

Its latest update reveals that equipped farm prices have increased by 4% so far in the final quarter of 2009, compared with the Q3 period, July to September. This puts the average equipped farm value at £7300/acre, still some 10% lower than a year ago, head of research, Dr Jason Beedell said.

“The increase is due to smaller farms coming on to the market, where the house boosts the value per acre. But it is a good positive indicator for the final part of the year. We will have a much better idea if this is the start of a sustained increase in values in the first quarter of next year.”

Some 27 equipped farms, totalling 5800 acres, were marketed in the first half of Q4, less than half the 53 farms (17,600 acres) in the same period in 2008. The average size of farms was 214 acres, which was 67 acres smaller than the previous quarter and 118 acres less than the final quarter of 2008, head of farm agency, Giles Wordsworth added.

“Over the past three years, our data clearly shows that smaller farms have higher values per acre. This demonstrates the importance of carefully lotting farms to maximise their overall value.”

Bare land, which has been more resilient to the downturn in prices, remained steady at £4800/acre, some 30% higher than the corresponding period in 2007. Availability has tailed off, with less than half the amount of bare land on the market than a year ago, Mr Wordsworth added. Just 16 parcels of bare land, totalling 1600 acres, have been marketed since the beginning of October, compared with 32 blocks, comprising 4700 acres, in the same period in 2008. The average parcel size has dropped from 147 acres to 98 acres.

“There is a noticeable decline in the number of properties and land areas being brought to market in the southern regions of England,” he said. “Numbers in the north west, West Midlands and Yorkshire remain comparable to 2008.”