At no time during the last 10 years has more English agricultural land come onto the public market, writes Howard Walsh.
In the past three months alone some 20,200ha (50,000 acres) came onto the market and according to Strutt and Parker’s Farmland Database, this takes the total amount launched for sale in 2018 to 39,000ha (96,600 acres).
This compares to 31,500ha (78,200 acres) in 2017 and 35,600 (87,800 acres) in 2016.
Michael Fiddes, head of estates and farm agency at Strutt and Parker, said: “We have gone from very tight supplies earlier in the year to a position where we have seen more land put on the open market than at any point in a decade.
“A significant chunk of the land which came forward in the third quarter is accounted for by sales by a handful of larger landowners - seven farms marketed in the period account for 11,300ha (28,000 acres) alone.”
However, he said even without these large individual sales, supplies did appear to have increased. There had, for example, been more farms for sale in the East, including six larger than 405ha (1,000 acres) compared with two in 2017.
Mr Fiddes said: “There has also been a big increase in the South West, with 46 farms marketed, the most since 2010, and 3,250ha (8,000 acres) in the North East compared with 2,100 in 2017.”
However, it was too early to say whether this increase in land supplies was a trend or a blip and he pointed out , overall demand was patchy, with a third of the farms marketed in 2017 still available or withdrawn. Nevertheless, those which were selling, were tending to sell well guide price or more.
“While it would be easy to jump to conclusions, the underlying factors which have always led to the sales - often known as the three Ds, death, debt and divorce - are still as relevant as ever.
“That said, the prospect of Brexit does seem to have acted as a prompt for some landowners to reflect on their long-term future in land ownership,” said Mr Fiddes.
According to the Farmland Database, arable land sold in 2018 has averaged about the same value as in 2017 and 2016 - £23,465 (£9,500/acre).
Mr Fiddes said prices ranged from a low of £14,820/ha (£6,000/acre) to a high of £37,000 (£15,000/acre), with demand strongest for cereal growing and large farms.