AUTUMN 2021 has been an active time for farmland sales in Scotland, compared to Great Britain as a whole.

That's according to Evelyn Channing, Savills head of rural agency in Scotland, who commented: “Between July and October there was a continuation of the trends we have seen throughout the year – high demand for farmland from a wide spectrum of buyers and relatively low levels of acres coming on to the market, with resulting increases in values.

"Indeed the rate of value rises in Scotland has outpaced England, with the value for prime arable now marginally higher than prices being achieved there for the first time since 2006. As a result of some exceptional prices are being paid for productive and best in class arable land.”

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Supply has increased from last year across Great Britain, particularly in Scotland which has seen a 75% increase. However it is still below the five-year average for between 2016 and 2020. Careston, a 1520 acre estate in Angus being sold in eight lots, has underlined the current strong appetite for quality arable land when launched on the open market.

The period from 2011-2015 – prior to the Brexit referendum – provides a useful benchmark against which to assess current levels of farmland supply. Comparing this with recent supply shows the market in Great Britain is currently around 20% smaller, but there are indications that it is now recovering from the influence of recent events.

Head of rural research at Savills, Emily Norton, explained: “Our agents suggest the slow recovery of supply partly relates to concerns among potential sellers about what they will do with the sale proceeds if they sell, and whether they will be able to find a suitable replacement property.

"Now that details surrounding the agricultural transition plan are providing clarity on future subsidy support levels, albeit to varying degrees across England, Scotland and Wales, farming businesses can make decisions about their long-term future and we expect supply to increase.”

The overall average land value in Scotland is now exceeding its previous peak recorded in December 2013. Land values continued to rise this quarter, with the average price of land in Great Britain rising 2.6% to £7060 per acre. On average an acre of agricultural land in Great Britain is now worth 5.2% more than it was 12 months ago, and values are increasing faster than the rate of inflation in the wider economy.

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The current low cost of financing a purchase is in some cases a contributing factor to the prices being paid in an undersupplied market. Agricultural land values have a long history of outperforming inflation; in fact, over the last 30 years the average annual growth rate has been 3.2% above inflation.

Ms Channing concluded: “The appetite for planting land is a factor with investors turning their attentions to average quality livestock land instead of the poorest quality, which often has limiting factors for tree planting. We are seeing sellers coming forward during this last quarter of 2021 as they seek to take advantage of current 'heat' in the Scottish market for land suitable for planting.”