County-by-county data collected by Knight Frank shows that pasture and arable land values have hit highs of £8,000 an acre in parts of England. Despite the credit crunch affecting other parts of the property market, agricultural land is still in demand from a variety of buyers.
Andrew Shirley, head of rural land research at Knight Frank, says: ‘What these figures show is the demand for all types of land in England is still extremely strong. The limited amount available to buy means the difference in price between top-quality and average soil is relatively small.
‘Despite the credit crunch that is affecting other property sectors, agricultural land is still in demand from a wide variety of buyers. There are a number of funds in the market prepared to pay premium prices for the few parcels of land they are able to buy.’
The highest values for prime arable land are highest in the south-west of England. The most expensive grassland is to be found at opposite ends of the country, in Cheshire and Berkshire, where the best pasture is making £8,000/acre. ‘Berkshire attracts wealthy lifestyle buyers looking for attractive amenity land, while Cheshire boasts some of the best growing conditions for grass and is prime dairy-farming country,’ says Mr Shirley.
Will the boom continue?
‘The big question is how long can this trend continue? My feeling is that prices will continue rising but we have already seen the strongest period of growth. However, farmland certainly isn’t a bubble waiting to burst and in these uncertain financial times is still likely to appeal to investors looking for a safe home for their funds and farmers wanting to expand their acreages.’