Farmland market outlook

Despite the well reported challenges and uncertainties facing farming businesses and the wider rural economy, we at Aberdeen and Northern Estates Ltd (the property division of ANM Group, based at Thainstone, Inverurie) have witnessed a continued healthy and steady demand for farms and farmland brought to the market during the first half of 2018. Equipped farms that have been marketed so far this year by Aberdeen and Northern Estates include Redhill at Inverness, Viewbank near Maud, and Cairnfechel at Udny. These open market sales have all been met with strong demand, resulting in competitive closing dates and positive outcomes.

Whilst the early months of 2018 saw a relatively short supply in the market, this has given way during the summer months as more farm properties have been launched. Despite this increase in supply, properties continue to be met with interest, which we take to be an indicator of steady demand. It has helped somewhat that the properties brought to the market this year are generally well spread-out across the region, reducing the concentration of supply.

However, we are continuing to find initial pricing to be critical. Time and again we see the benefits that canny asking prices can bring to our clients and our trusty A&N mantra continues to apply – price realistically and sensitively, market effectively and the interest generated will let the property find its real value within the marketplace. It is this approach and our focus on delivering the highest quality, best value service and strong marketing campaigns that differentiates us from our competitors. We take great caution to avoid over-pricing, which is something that can stall a marketing campaign from the outset.

We have recently launched to the market both Bogenraith farm, a 542-acre equipped unit near Durris, Banchory, and Easter Jackston farm, a 230-acre mixed arable unit at Longmanhill, Banff. Whilst these have only been on the market for a matter of weeks, both have received a good number of early enquiries from interested parties. This highlights the ongoing resilience of the rural sector in the North-east, something which is at odds with the picture often painted by those commentating on the land market in a national context.

Whilst there is an understandable mood of caution in the market (from both buyers and sellers alike), competitive closing dates for attractive properties remain possible where a level of competition has been generated. We have reported in the past that we are finding buyers’ outlooks to be focused ahead, past the relatively short-term political uncertainties. This certainly continues to be the case with many purchasers taking the view that the combination of the right property and favourable borrowing rates forms a unique opportunity that will stand the future of their enterprise in good stead.

There is no escaping the fact that Brexit looms in the background, whilst the dry summer has brought focus on fodder pressures and other challenges to many rural businesses. However, we expect the same degree of cautious optimism to remain in the land market and the resilience of both buyers and sellers to be undiminished in the short to medium term. Furthermore, the north and north east farmland markets continue to represent good value for money to those outwith the area and from further afield.