FARMERS and landowners selling farms and land via public auction has seen land and property prices driven to new levels. Here, Thomas Armstrong, Director and Chartered Surveyor for H&H Land & Estates, tells us why the public auction route is often the best option for trading land, and discusses some recent successes.

PUTTING your farm, land, or house under the hammer is the traditional method of selling property and especially so in the north of England. It is a clear and transparent process, offering several advantages for both vendors and purchasers. Many of our clients have a heritage deep rooted in selling livestock through the auction systems so this is a well-known and comfortable method of sale for them.

At H&H Land & Estates, says Thomas we are very fortunate to have cutting-edge, online technology for selling virtually, and during lockdown we held a number of property auctions using our online trading platform. However, since restrictions were lifted, we have held 12 auctions on site to a live audience and the results have been phenomenal. The competition that is uniquely created at auctions has driven property values to new levels and more often than not, much better prices than expected are achieved. Our recent 12 auctions have been for both land and property and on average each lot has exceeded the guide price by 50 percent.

Of course, we have seen prices generally rising across the board, however, I believe that a key reason for the popularity of both selling and purchasing by auction is the significant legal difference. A private treaty sale, especially at the moment, can be a long and arduous process. However, when any type of land, farm or property comes to the markets for sale via an auction, potential buyers can only bid if they have all the monies, or a mortgage offer in place. At the fall of the Auctioneers’ gavel, the buyer is legally committed to purchasing the property. This provides instant reassurance for the seller. Auctions are equally advantageous for purchasers, they can reast assured that once the gavel has come down there will be no opportunities to be ‘gazumped’.

The types of properties that often sell well at auction, are farms and parcels of lands.

An auction which we had to conduct virtually last year was for the 50-acres Dove House Farm, near Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria. Offered with a guide price of £750,000 - £825,000, interest was phenomenal, and the farm sold in lots for £1,000,000.

More recently we have just sold 113.96 acres of good quality mowing and grazing land at Blindcrake, near Cockermouth, in Cumbria. It sold for, £945,000, an average of £8,292 per acre, an impressive £250,000 over the guide price of £695,000.

It is not just large acreages which are selling well by auction, there is an increasing demand for smaller parcels of land and woodland, especially from investors and those just wanting to purchase somewhere to enjoy the great outdoors. A recent Cumbrian field barn with no planning permission or electric, set in a 1/4 acre of land sold, for £90,000, and 3-acres of land with frontage onto Coniston water sold for £310,000.

It is encouraging to see these results and we would anticipate that auction popularity will continue.”