The price of agricultural land in England is “very variable”, with arable land values ranging from £6,500/ac to £17,000/ac during the first half of the year, according to Strutt & Parker.

Latest analysis of the Farmland Database, which records the sale of all farms, estates and blocks of publicly marketed land in England over 100ac in size, shows the average sale price of arable land was £11,000/acre in the first half of 2024, which remains close to record levels.

However, agricultural land values can vary significantly, even within a relatively small geographic area, with a combination of increased supply and a levelling off in demand having an impact, Strutt & Parker said.

Head of estates and farm agency at the property consultancy, Sam Holt, said: “The overall picture is positive with farmland prices proving highly resilient, despite challenges like higher interest rates and lower farm profitability.

“You can see the resilience in both arable and pasture prices. For example, over 70% of sales of arable land have been at £10,000/acre or more in the past three years.

“Before then, 70% of sales were for below £10,000/acre.  For pasture, a third of sales are over £10,000/acre, compared with less than 10% of sales before 2022.”

However, Holt said the signs of demand levelling are becoming more evident – the proportion of farms sold or under offer is falling and the proportion selling at, or for more than, their asking price has also fallen back from their peak levels in 2021 and 2022.

“The market is more location driven than it has been recently, which means that although we continue to see many properties flying out of the door for premium prices, others are taking longer to sell.”

Farmland database

The database shows that more farmland has been publicly marketed in England during the first half of the year than in any year since 2012.

In total, 59,800ac have been launched so far in 2024, which is 35% higher than the five-year average and 23% higher than during the equivalent period in 2023.

“This sounds like a dramatic increase, but this is a year where lots of launches have been concertinaed into a relatively short window – a number were delayed because of the bad weather in the spring, while others were brought forward in anticipation of a general election in the second half of the year,” Holt said.

“Overall, our view is that while the volume of land for sale has risen and buyers do have more choice, there is a risk that this becomes overstated because supply has been so low over the past five years.

“Rather than indicating a significant exit from the sector, it feels more like a return to more ‘normal’ volumes of land coming forward. Our expectation is also that supply may well ease back slightly over the next few months.”

Holt said understanding the dynamics of your local market is essential for anyone currently considering buying or selling.

“For motivated sellers, taking professional advice is critical to ensure the property is priced correctly from the off. For buyers, that local knowledge is needed to avoid overpaying,” he said.

Agri politics

Looking ahead, given the continued pressures on the farming industry, demand from farmer buyers is likely to continue to be variable.

However, there remain enough other buyers in the market to avoid any significant downwards pressure on values, Holt said.

“The big question is whether the new government decides to reform the tax regime. Any increase in Capital Gains Tax (CGT), to align rates with income tax, may mean sellers reconsider selling property assets.

“Any changes to the Inheritance Tax (IHT) regime would also have a significant impact on the agricultural land market, although the messaging on this from the Labour Party before the election was that no changes to Agricultural Property Relief (APR) are planned.”