Prices for farmland may have flattened, and there is uncertainty following Brexit, says Woods, but fundamentally little has changed and the best land continues to sell well with competition, due to lack of supply: ‘Farmers want to continue to build on their existing holdings, and are prepared to pay a premium for land that marches with theirs,’ he says.
‘A number of clients have increased their landholding over the last twelve months and for those who want to leverage their investment, there has never been a better time with long-term fixed rates at never-to-be-seen again historic lows.’ Specialising in mitigating capital gains and inheritance taxes and long-term succession planning, Woods also advises overseas clients on structuring their multinational and multigenerational interests — interests he often unearths in a dizzyingly complicated state, and thrives on unwinding.
There have been challenges: ‘the overseas buyer has not liked the uncertainty whilst he awaits clarity on the non dom changes, and Brexit has added to that,’ he says. ‘However, for the lifestyle buyer these factors are largely immaterial and following Brexit there are discounts for the non-sterling denominated client, and an opportunity to buy at up to a 15 per cent discount that might not last.’
Estate owners are focusing more on the future, he says, and involving the next generation: ‘[They] are taking a step back and asking the question, “what is it all about? Why are we landowners? What can we do, as a business?”’ — this has led to some interesting discussions and helped focus the family on their objectives and destination as landowners.’