News: Non-farmers make up 1 in 4 of rural land buyers

Mon, 08 Feb 16

Non-farmers are now responsible for one in four rural land sales in the UK, according to new research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

25 per cent of rural land sales over the past six months have been to entrepreneurs starting up cottage industries or other non-farmers, up from 18 per cent in the first half of 2015. Property developers, however, only accounted for 1 per cent of land sales, down 2 per cent, with sales to individual farmers down from 62 per cent to 57 per cent.

The trend is strongest in South East England where non-farmers accounted for 32 per cent of all sales.

"Commercial and residential property prices in our towns and cities are continuing to rise. This is likely to make rural land increasingly attractive to those outside traditional farming communities," explains RICS Chief Economist Simon Rubinsohn. "Already, a quarter of all countryside land is being purchased by non-farmers – lifestyle buyers or hobby farmers - throw all these factors into the mix and this trend is set to rise."

Farmland has also been considered as an option for alternative investors in recent years, due to the land’s finite supply and growing demand for food and other agricultural produce to support the world’s growing population.

In the last 12 months, though, farmland has begun to cool as an asset, a trend that chartered surveyors now expect to continue, with prices forecast to fall in the next 12 months. (Overall, 34 per cent more rural surveyors expect to see prices drop than rise.)

The global decline in crop prices is likely to be a driving factor of the predicted decline.

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