'GOOD LIFE' buyers searching for small farms, smallholdings or rural properties are back with a vengeance since the UK's coronavirus lockdown began.

Analysis by land agent Savills has shown that interest in rural property is up 50% on pre-lockdown levels, with many more residential buyers citing outside space as more important. A village or countryside location is now more attractive to 40% of those surveyed, increasing to 50% for those with school-aged children.

Many of this new wave of buyers have proved that they can work remotely from home, potentially removing the need to be in an office environment five days a week. The ability to commute less frequently is allowing buyers to consider a much wider area when looking for property.

Evelyn Channing of Savills said: “Locations further away from cities generally offer better value for money. Indeed, those who are selling homes in cities to move to the country may find they have sufficient funds to allow them to consider purchasing a small farm, as many fall into the same price bracket as a country house but come with many more advantages.

"Such buyers can enjoy a rural lifestyle without the need for any previous experience in growing crops or looking after livestock. For larger rural properties, one such solution might be a contract farming agreement whereby a neighbouring or local farmer undertakes the mechanics of sowing, looking after and harvesting a crop with the returns being shared.”

Savills' Sian Houston sold Changue Farmhouse in Dumfries and Galloway in April – offers over £550,000 – to a couple from south of the border. She said: “Changue generated interest from people we hadn’t seen in the market before, pointing to a growing trend of ‘life-style’ buyers. The ultimate purchasers of this lovely smallholding of 40 acres, with a refurbished farmhouse, were looking for privacy and a rural setting. Changue has given them the biggest garden they could ever want and space for an office. For those who are selling their current home in the city, where values are generally higher, it means a life on the land and working from home can become a reality."

UK Head of Savills Farms and Estates, Charles Dudgeon, said: “We are seeing this shift to country living all over the UK and as we ease out of lockdown in Scotland it will gather pace north of the border too, with the residential buyer becoming of much greater relevance to the farmland market. It follows the pattern we saw in the late 80s and mid-90s when sellers in the south of England were cashing-in and heading north to secure a lot more bang for their buck.

“Savills currently have 200 viewings of Scottish country properties pending, and now that lockdown measures are lifting here, we expect to see many buyers putting forward offers and ultimately making their rural dreams a reality by buying farms of all types and sizes. It is certainly worth farmers who are looking to sell casting their net far wider to catch this new style of buyer, irrespective of scale.”