Wait-and-see as organic units come on stream
By Andrew Shirley
A CLUTCH of organic farms has just come on the market, but agents are unsure if the eco-friendly properties will command a price premium.
Carver Knowles Mark Grimes has recently handled the sale of two dairy units, and although only one went to an organic producer he feels their organic status was a definite marketing advantage.
"We had three serious bidders for a 162-acre farm in Worcs, two were interested in the organic angle but in the end it went to a neighbour who wasnt."
Even so, Mr Grimes is confident the extra interest helped to boost the price above the £760,000 guide. "It can only be beneficial when there are more parties in the running."
The agent has also just wrapped up a deal on Penuwch Farm, near St Clears, Carmathenshire. Due to foot-and-mouth the 139-acre holding was never on the open market, so a serious buyer was identified privately.
"The purchaser is a dedicated organic producer and will be farming on a commercial basis, and it does appear that the organic status of the farm was responsible for a premium above local land values."
Another property attracting organic interest is 152 acres of organically-registered vegetable land, available from Luscombe Maye Hands Hughes, overlooking the Devon coast, near Kingsbridge.
But agent Amanda Marks says there are plenty of other factors that could inflate the sale value. "The parcel has stunning views and is located near to an affluent village.
"I guess the guide price of £2000-2500/acre does reflect the organic status to some extent but only by a few hundred pounds." she adds. Closing date for informal tenders is later this week.
Strutt & Parker is due to launch Balsdon, a 109-acre IACS-registered organic pasture farm at Inkpen, Berks, for £750,000, and the firms Patrick Bailey believes it is hard to gauge the attraction of the organic aspect.
"No doubt about it, there is a select band of dedicated organic farmers looking for new properties, but it is still a niche market."
Part of the problem, according to Stags Gordon Miller, is that most of the properties currently for sale tend to be quite small. "A lot of the value is tied up in the house," he notes.
Mr Miller is marketing Whitecroft, a 153-acre organic pasture farm near Holsworthy, Devon, and says the £585,000 guide does not include a premium. "I do get more interest in organic farms than ordinary farms but they dont seem to command a higher price."
However, the agent reckons, with the growing popularity of organic produce, this will soon change, and given that at least two agents are lining up to offer properties in excess of 500 acres the market for organic land could soon receive a more thorough benchmarking. *