Barely 60,000 acres of land have been publicly advertised so far in 2020, according to the Farmers Weekly Land Tracker (set up in a different life by yours truly). That’s 35% down on last year, which itself set a record low in terms of acres launched.
The drop in volumes is perhaps unsurprising given the Covid-19 lockdown, but even during the Foot-and-Mouth crisis of 2001 when access to the countryside was also curtailed over 150,000 acres found their way to the public market.
Although a “fair amount” is happening off market, supply is still well down and, often in combination with rollover pressure, is helping push up prices in certain cases, says Mark Lawson of The Buying Solution who assists private individuals acquire land and estates.
“For the right farm in the right location, prices of up to £12,000/acre are being achieved. Farms hitting that sweet spot tend to be easily managed 1,000-acre+ arable units in areas such as the Cotswolds and Midlands,” he says.
“My clients are often self-made entrepreneurs looking to diversify their investment portfolios. Generally to make it worth their while they want to spend at least £10 million and prefer their land to be relatively close to where they live,” explains Mark.
But second-rate land in not-quite-so-desirable parts of the country is less in demand and in some cases is struggling to achieve over £7,000/acre, he says.