Agricultural Property Sales
Throughout 2021 Bletsoes’ Agricultural Team acted for a number of clients in respect of both the purchase and sale of agricultural land. Of the transactions we have been involved in, the predominant sales method has been Private Treaty, as many vendors have opted for this flexible route. In 2021 we saw success with a number of transactions totalling 920 acres of agricultural land sales which Completed in the year, with a further four sales having been agreed in 2021 and nearing completion in early 2022. The conclusion of the sales, which are still with solicitors, will take the total area of agricultural land sales that Bletsoes have been involved in during 2021 to over 1,200 acres.
We have seen an increase in the amount of land being sold privately, and indeed Bletsoes were involved with one block of over 550 acres which sold, without being launched on the open market, in the past 12 months. We would advocate that selling on the open-market is still a valuable sales method, and on average we have achieved higher values per acre when land is sold on the open market, compared to land sold privately. There are of course several other factors that will influence the final sale value of a property, but in a land market that is short of supply, open market sales often lead to competitive bidding between parties.
The Agricultural Team at Bletsoes sold a number of small paddocks (under 10 acres) in 2021, all of which achieved exceptionally strong values on the open market with certain parcels achieving levels just under, or slightly exceeding £25,000/acre. This exemplifies the strength of demand from the amenity and lifestyle purchasing groups. On a weekly basis we receive general enquiries from parties looking to purchase land to graze horses, exercise dogs, plant trees, preserve nature or to set up a smallholding. Across the industry it is reported that demand is growing from parties looking to purchase land to assist in carbon capture schemes and other sustainable projects.
Nationally there was a decline in the amount of commercial farmland being brought on to the market in 2021, however approximately 85% of the land sales that Bletsoes have been involved in during 2021 were of commercial arable land in the region. Strong values are being achieved, reflecting that farmers and investors have a healthy budget to purchase commercial farmland. In the Midlands area there has been, and continues to be, a large amount of development and infrastructure projects, which leads to a further push on the limited supply of agricultural land, as those who have sold land for these schemes look to reinvest in new land and farms.
Looking forward to 2022, we have begun discussions with new and retained clients with a view to launch land for sale in the Spring of 2022. Preparations are underway for substantial blocks of agricultural land to potentially be launched to the market across Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. We are also working with numerous land owning clients to review their farming arrangements, which may result in new farming opportunities being offered, where a sale of land is not the correct route for these parties.
If you have been considering selling your land or changing your farming arrangements, please do speak to a member of the Agricultural Team who would be very happy to talk through the options available to you. Much of the preparatory work regarding legal matters, marketing and decision making can be done now during the colder, quieter months, ready for the traditional sunny Spring time launch of farmland. If you are looking to purchase land or farms, then this is another area of work which Bletsoes’ Agricultural Team have considerable experience in assisting clients with. For further information please contact Chris Templar or Nicola Clayton-Bailey in the first instance on 01832 732241.
Residential Property Sales
Property Sales in 2021 roared in like a lion, with a momentum that was stimulated by the unprecedented Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday, which continued to the 30th September 2021, along with a structural change in the market with more buyers seeking market town and rural properties.
We are proud to say that our Residential Sales Team worked tirelessly during 2021, with strong sales achieved for clients across the board. Indeed almost our entire High Street window was filled with properties SOLD subject to contract, and this is still the dominant theme today. Naturally with such demand - there are challenges including lengthy chains and ongoing searches where some buyers simply couldn’t find their next “forever property” but with an experienced and professional team we are able to manage the challenges for our clients.
As we move into 2022 many commentators are predicting that the uncertainties in the wider economy, particularly increases in the cost of living and potential interest rate rises, may moderate house price growth to some extent, but with low numbers of properties for sale being a feature across the market and an ongoing desire to ‘move to the country’ the outlook for rural property remains positive.
We at Bletsoes Estate Agency are proud to deliver an exceptional service for our clients and we welcome 2022 and the new opportunity this brings us for new business and new working relationships. We look forward to sharing and engineering an exciting and satisfying journey to a destination soon to be called home. Please contact Craig Berry or Charlie Fraser on 01832 732241 to obtain a free market appraisal or to register your property search.
Residential lettings have continued to remain buoyant during 2021, with rental prices remaining relatively high. Despite the ongoing pandemic, we have been able to maintain a first-class level of service to our clients and have been able to adapt where necessary. With regards to the availability of rental properties, demand has continued to outstrip supply throughout 2021, as in 2020. There still seems to be a shortage of rental properties becoming available and we have seen unprecedented levels of enquiries once a property is launched.
During 2021 we have been instructed to take on the management or find tenants for a number of additional new properties, ranging from apartments in Northampton, to a large seven bedroom detached farmhouse near Hanslope in Buckinghamshire. As in previous years, a number of these new instructions have been based solely upon recommendation, which we are extremely proud of.
On the flip side, we have seen quite an increase during 2021 in Landlords who have decided to sell their rental properties. There have been a few reasons for this, ranging from needing to move into the property themselves, through to changing Buy-to-Let financial implications and those individuals simply re-evaluating their circumstances. This year in particular has seen us lose a few rental properties this way, although we are pleased to say that Bletsoes were generally entrusted with the sale of these properties, some of which were purchased by new owners, as Buy-to-Let properties.
Another reason for some Landlords deciding enough is enough, could be due to the ever-increasing legislation that landlords need to be aware of and abide by in the rental sector. Bletsoes offer a fully managed service, with no set up fee, to Landlords. This means any Landlord which chooses Bletsoes to manage their property can be rest assured we will guide and support you through any legislative requirements. If you wish to discuss the Property Rentals Service we offer, please do not hesitate to contact Teresa Mutton on 01832 732188.
Planning & Development Property
The Planning & Development team has been extremely busy during 2021, which was fantastic news given the economic uncertainties, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team have worked on many exciting development projects over the last 12 months, with much of our work centring around securing planning permissions or longer-term strategic planning projects where we work for landowners alongside Promoters or Developers. The team have exchanged contracts on many Promotion and Option Agreements over a wide area, including Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire. These sites range from approximately 4 acres right the way up to 100+ acres. In addition to this, the team have been involved in several development land sales including 75 dwellings in Wellingborough, 59 dwellings in Huntingdonshire and 50 dwellings in Bedfordshire. We have also had a number of planning successes ranging from new farm dwellings, through to the conversion of farm buildings and leading right up to urban extensions for approximately 1,100 dwellings.
No individual within the P & D team expected the housing market to surge through the majority of 2021 in the way that it did, albeit helped by more demand for space to work from home during the pandemic, as well as temporary tax breaks for home buyers. The RICS reported that house prices rose 11.8% from January to September 2021. This was largely driven by a lack of supply of suitable homes which in turn was driving prices higher. It is worth noting that, due to the pandemic and the impact it has had on the building material supply chain, build costs have significantly risen in the last year. Due to the rise in build costs and some developers increasing their profit margins owing to the economic uncertainty, land values were tempered and landowners did not receive the full benefit from the rise in house prices. However, it is fair to say that we had many happy clients when the deals were eventually completed, and the money was in the bank!
Predicting how 2022 will materialise, the RICS are stating that due to a rise in the cost of borrowing and household budgets coming under mounting strain, the housing market will slow in 2022, with forecasters typically suggesting house price growth of between 3-5% next year. To provide context, The Nationwide Building Society index showed annual price growth running at 10% for 2021.
Moving on to what we know is happening in 2022, North Northamptonshire Council will be undertaking a ‘Call for Sites’ exercise. We understand that this will run from now until approximately April 2022. Should you have any land in North Northants or indeed elsewhere, that should be promoted through an emerging local plan, please do contact a member of the P & D team and we will happily assist you with this matter.
Irrespective of what is predicted to happen in 2022, the P & D team will be busy handling many exciting projects and it is hoped that when we look back on this year, we can do so surrounded by friends and family, mask free. Should you wish to discuss the above, or any planning related matter, please do not hesitate to contact Peter Moore, Andrew Middleditch, Tristan Peck or Alistair Brodie.
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