Until the last few weeks, sellers had been ready to commit to the market following the General Election result, and buyers who had previously been frustrated by the lack of stock to consider had been eagerly anticipating new farms and estates coming to the market. Unsurprisingly, all that seems to be on hold at least for the time being, says Evelyn Channing Savills head of rural agency in Scotland.
She said: “Scottish farmers had faired better than counterparts south of the border, managing to get the majority of winter crops in the ground before one of the wettest winters on record. Livestock farmers were still feeling the strain of suppressed beef prices and negative talk surrounding methane emissions. Yet, there was a degree of optimism in the air which often accompanies spring. Domestic food security however may now be back at the top of the political agenda following the hiatus caused by Covid 19,and rightly so.
“Now all our rural agents are working remotely from home with laptops and mobiles and progressing with agreed sales. We are continuing to prepare those farms and estates that are earmarked to come to the market for sale in 2020 which typically would be launched mid May. We are doing all the necessary due diligence as normal and preparing the marketing material as far as we possibly can. We can take a decision at the very last minute as to whether or not to delay a launch and it is worth remembering that these days it takes no more than 24 hours to get a property live on our website and the property portals. We can also send links with details to those on our database of buyers, so being prepared and communicating with our buyers and sellers will continue to be a priority over the coming weeks.
“Our approach to the new way of working will continue to evolve and when the current movement restrictions ease, we are aiming to get back to as close to normal practice as is possible, within the realms of safety and guidelines issued by the health experts. As many farms and estates are by their very nature in relatively isolated or remote locations, we anticipate that it may be perfectly possible to carry out viewings in separate vehicles in order to socially distance, whilst holding a running commentary via mobile phone. There is also the technology to create virtual tours of dwellings and drone footage of land to share with potential buyers.
“The dramatic fall in the stock market may encourage some of those with funds to invest in land and property. Land has long been viewed as an attractive, long term defensive investment class. Prior to Covid 19 the number of enquiries for estates had increased significantly since the General Election driven by both the climate change and wellbeing agendas. I would not be surprised that when life does returns to normal that we see an increased focus on Scotland as a consequence of the pureness of our natural surroundings/environment and the rawness of our landscape.”