What an amazing year 2014 has turned out to be for land price – demand and prices have risen beyond all expectations and with continued shortage of supply, prices are set firm ahead.
2014 started out with record rain falls which delayed the traditional early spring market as in some cases the land was still under water. This delay had a concertina effect which brought a surge of land to the open market in late spring and into April/May. Land parcels were being offered at £9000 per acre, achieving close to £10,000 per acre and in some cases above. There was plenty of confidence in the market with the main banks willing to lend on land and farms. During this period the open market was active however the “off” market was where Woolley & Wallis saw several, mainly arable farms sell for significant premiums. W&W sold privately 300 acres of arable and pasture land in North Wiltshire. There was considerable interest and a premium of 10% above the guide was achieved. Other parcels of land have sold both quickly and quietly during this period and at attractive prices.
The summer months witnessed further strengthening of the market and the yields achieved from the harvest were bountiful. Although prices for grain were lower than desired, the demand for land remained strong. A block of 100 acres of arable land for sale at Foxham near Chippenham, Wiltshire was brought to the open market as a whole or in 13 lots with a guide price of£750,000. The guide was quickly exceeded amongst competitive bidding from both neighbours and farmers from well outside the district. In Stalbridge, Dorset we offered a pair of dairy farms subject to Agricultural Holdings Act tenancies extending to about 300 acres with a guide price of £2,350,000. There was serious interest from investors and long term land owners and the properties represented a stable and secure return on capital. In June 75 acres of arable land at Warbourne Farm near Lymington in the New Forest was sold as a whole after strong interest at a price approaching £20,000 per acre. This demonstrates both local demand and confidences in the land market.
During August a further 100 acre parcel of good quality arable land sold at Clyffe Pypard near Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire. The land has good access and provided an ideal block to attach to an existing commercial holding to help spread fixed costs and increase farm size. There was, as expected, interest from the local farming community as well as from investors.
The autumn brought the exciting launch of Robey’s Farm, an outstanding commercial arable farm with a renowned partridge and pheasant shoot within the much favoured Candover Valley. The farm is about 980 acres and was brought to the open market with a guide price of 12 million. Interest came from within the UK as well as abroad and there was intense, competitive bidding. The demand is clearly demonstrated for pure commercial farms as there is no shortage of cash funds available to invest in UK agriculture.
The prospects for 2015 look firm and positive for good quality arable land, with plenty of investors as well as farmers seeking to grow their property portfolios. The future for livestock farms and tracts of pasture land could come under more pressure from the drop in milk, sheep and beef prices taking affect.
There will be a general election in May 2015 and we will likely see more investment in land as a shelter for capital. Woolley & Wallis have considerable experience and skill in advising landowners and farmers on the right time to sell plus the detailed market knowledge to guide investors.