Retirement and relocation will remain the main reasons for farm sales in 2018, with Tom Stewart-Moore expecting a similar acreage of land coming to the market as 2017.
“There does not seem to be any trends suggesting people are deciding to sell their farm because of Brexit,” he says.
Buyers of Scottish farms are typically farmers looking to ‘upsize’ or buy an additional unit. Lifestyle buyers are also active in the market.
“There are some English buyers who have sold some land for development or farm buildings for development and are now looking to relocate to Scotland.”
Mr Stewart-Moore highlights the Scottish market is ‘very seasonal’ and the late snow flurries have put most farms back by around a month.
“Therefore I would not expect the majority of farms to come to the open market until June.”
Due to a restricted supply of farms, there are plenty of buyers from around England, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are waiting for the right farm to come along to buy.
“I expect, like last year, that prime arable farms will continue to sell well as well as bare blocks of arable ground in the right areas.
“Mixed farms of scale and hill units with planting capabilities will also be in demand.”
But for farms which are in need of significant investment, for example in buildings and smaller farms, sales will be much more price sensitive.
He also expects regional variation, with farms in the Scottish Borders, Lothians and the Central Belt, in high demand following a recent lack of supply in these regions. He added Knight Frank would be launching a ‘couple of farms’ in the Central Belt in June.
“Last year, for instance, saw more land sold privately in the Borders than on the open market.
“I expect there will be more private deals done for farms in the year ahead between an owner and immediate neighbours.”
While it is early in the year for making predictions, Mr Stewart-Moore says he expects land prices to remain firm in 2018 and the gap between prime arable and secondary and tertiary arable land will be wide.
Farms sales in Scotland