Call for seller caution despite buoyant market

FARMERS considering selling their properties must be "realistic" when setting sales values, according to Andrew Rettie at Strutt & Parker, Edinburgh.

He claimed the demand for farmland was still very strong.

"At the moment, our top-30 investment purchasers have a combined spending power of over 500 million, which they want to put into farmland now," he said.

"In addition, there are many more farmers, lifestyle buyers and investors looking to spend between 1million and 10m.

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"There is demand both for commercial arable farms, where the bulk of the value is in the land, right through to residential farms with a good house surrounded by its own acres. If owners are prepared to put their farms and estates on the market at realistic prices, competition is generated and in many cases the eventual sale price exceeds expectations.

"The key is going to the market at a level that generates genuine interest from a number of parties," he added.

His company has transacted deals of more than 10,400 acres of farmland in the first quarter of this year. "All of the land we're talking about is in blocks of at least 100 acres; the smallest was 114 acres and the largest 3,250 acres," Rettie said.

According to its database, 14,194 acres of land in the UK has come to the market in 2010.

"While a lot of the land we have sold had been available prior to the last quarter, it's still quite an impressive figure when you consider the land we've sold is equivalent to more than 73 per cent of what has been available so far."