Savills latest research reveals an active farmland market in Scotland, both in terms of the level of land being launched to the market and healthy level of buyer interest. There has been a 43% increase in the amount of land being offered for sale on the Scottish market compared to a modest drop south of the border, and viewer numbers in Scotland are up compared with the same period last year.
Evelyn Channing of Savills Farm Agency team said there are several reasons why the Scottish market is bucking the UK trend, despite challenges facing the sector. These include referendum fatigue, improved bank lending, value for money and the desire to diversify farming income.
She said: “Although it is early days for many farms launched on the open market across the length and breadth of Scotland, viewer requests and pre-emptive offers paint an unexpectedly positive picture in an industry beset with concerns. In addition there is a strong appetite from farmers who are looking for purchasing advice in this uncertain market.
“The farming industry is largely dependent on subsidies, and as such we anticipated a pause in market on the run up to the EU vote, but this has not been the case. Coming hot on the heels of the Scottish Referendum and local elections, a level of fatigue has set in and the EU debate has had minimal impact north of the border as a result. Our advice to sellers has not been to hold back until after the vote, but to launch their farms; albeit with delayed closing dates to accommodate any pre-referendum nerves.
“In terms of buyers, we are seeing those who wish to stay in farming for the long term gearing up to expand in order to weather any storms that may lie ahead. Again, this strategy is operating regardless of the EU vote. Banks are increasingly supportive of such expanding farms and lending is on the increase.
According to Savills the commercial need to secure value for money has been a greater driver than politics in the current market. The gap in values between what is available in Scotland and prices in England and Ireland is therefore attracting a growing number of viewers to Scotland.
Evelyn said: “Demonstrating outstanding value for money has been key to generating interest.” Crofthead in Dumfriesshire, an attractive mixed agricultural, forestry and sporting estate at a total of 1,258 acres, and Falahill in Midlothian, an extensive arable and stock farm in the Scottish borders at 1,500 acres are both attracting English viewers.
“Overlaw, a small dairy farm of around 311 acres in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway, has been inundated with viewers from far and wide despite challenges within the dairy sector. Buyers from Northern Ireland, where land values have risen once again, are back in the market and we are also seeing those driven by the desire to relocate beef units from areas blighted with TB. A unit such as Overlaw in a particularly attractive part of the UK is highly appealing in this regard.
“Scale will be the key to attracting interest in Cowford, a 777 acre unit north of Perth which includes an established forestry plantation adjoining the principal equipped lot (417 acres) and a secondary bare land lot of 95 acres. Meanwhile in Stirlingshire Alton of Bandeath, a 499 acre arable and stock holding on the Carse of Stirling, offers those developers and strategic land buyers the opportunity to acquire a well located unit with zoning for 75 houses in the Stirling Local Development plan and further land allocated for business use.
“Recent launches demonstrate buyers are keen to secure a diversified income, which potentially can deliver a secondary income in more challenging times.”
Parknowe Farm near Cupar, Fife extends to about 250 acres and for the past 11 years has slowly evolved to become an established livery business, delivering an income in farming terms that would equate to £250 per tonne of grain produce across ever acre. Strong interest in Falside Farm south east of St Andrews is anticipated as a satellite unit to run in conjunction with a main holding given its reputation of comprising a compact block of arable land of quality.