Starter farms – where to start?



Many new entrants to the farms market here in the south east, including the sons and daughters of farmers, look to start out small.

Many will start out with tenancies or contracting and then move on to a purchase a farm, to give them greater control and stability, once that becomes a limiting factor to their business.  In the very early stages, the limiting factors are more likely to be stock numbers and machinery.

With this in mind, in a livestock context a starter farm will often feature a modest house, buildings and up to 50 acres of land.

In an ideal world, such a property would be guided at a figure below £1 million, although here in the south east, such a property can often be worth something closer to £1.5M, depending on the location.

This type of buyer is typically less interested in the house, and frankly, the smaller the better in terms of the residential element, which will not generate income. A semi-detached cottage with land and buildings is perfect if one can be found.

Buildings suitable for machinery and fodder storage and livestock housing, together with an area of land to turn stock out on are all desirable features, but there is often significant flexibility.  The total area of land is usually less important, as often this type of purchaser will retain short and long-term grazing agreements elsewhere.

We are also seeing significant ‘first time’ interest in land suitable for vines, or other more specialist crops which are more viable on smaller acreages.

Without doubt we are seeing more ‘first time’ buyers at viewing days on appropriate properties, and in addition, as AMC agents, we are preparing a good number of mortgage applications for this class of purchaser.

There is however a real shortage of suitable properties. We recently sold Little Hinton Farm, near Horam in East Sussex for in excess of the £1m guide, after a very high level of interest. The property had a 4 bedroom chalet bungalow, good outbuildings, and 23 acres of land with potential to generate diversified income from a holiday let.

We have been recently instructed to offer another farm to the market with around 50 acres and extensive buildings in the East Sussex Weald, at a guide well within reach of starter unit purchasers.  The house needs work, but I think that if anything this will serve to generate even more interest due to the ‘can-do’ mentality of this class of purchaser.

If you are interested in acquiring a starter farm, or have a suitable property that may appeal to this type of buyer please do get in touch.