Increased interest in private market for farmland in south west England

A growing number of farmers in the south west of England are looking to market their farms privately this autumn, rather than launch them on the open market.

Charlie Evans, Strutt & Parker’s Head of Estates and Farm Agency in the South West Region, said he has ten farms, totalling 2,385 acres, available privately this autumn. This compares with four farms a year ago, totalling 864 acres.

He has an additional 2,336 acres available in south west England on the open market.

“The trend does seem to be for an increase in private marketing,” he said. “Normally I would expect the ratio to be 75:25 in favour of open market sales.

“There are two key reasons for this happening. The first is uncertainty about how the market will perform this autumn because of the impact of the Brexit vote. Some people are thinking they don’t want to lose the impact of their farms in the market through a public launch if it turns out the market is weak, so this is a way to test the market discreetly.

“I also think the current climate, in terms of profitability, is leading others to question why they are farming. Some have decided if they can get a good price for their farm they will sell, but don’t want to alert neighbours, suppliers or staff to the fact they are open to leaving the industry. Selling privately gives them privacy, so that they can carry on with business as usual for the time being.”

Mr Evans said off-market sales typically accounted for 25% of sales in the region, which was broadly reflective of the position nationwide.

“Private marketing is attractive to people who are looking to move but cannot buy before they sell. They want to be ready to buy when they find the right thing. It also appeals to those who want to sell, but continue trading as normal in the meantime.”

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