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Knight Frank boasts more than a century in rural property — and steadfast country hand Clive Hopkins has seen over a quarter of it from within. Hailed as ‘terrific’ and ‘seriously good’ by experts, he heads its farms and estates division, a specialist team of nine within the firm’s London office. He says that since the beginning of 2017, many farms and estates that ‘had been on the market for some time’ have been sold: ‘The current trend really is a shortage of stock. Buyers seem to have got their heads around Brexit, but vendors are more cautious about selling unless they really have to.’ Hopkins points to Knight Frank’s Farmland Index and its reflection of values by type — notably a stabilisation from January to March and a drop of 1.7 per cent in the second quarter, following a drop of 8.5 per cent last year, with the average value of (bare) farmland now standing at £7,313 per acre. ‘I think the market will stand a limited increase in the number of farms for sale,’ he says. ‘In fact prices could be higher for those that bring their units to the market early, but if interest rates rise hastening the trend, prices will start to suffer.’ He anticipates that ‘we won’t see the huge drops experienced in Ireland following the financial crisis, but it’s not inconceivable that average values could settle at around £6,500 per acre until supply and demand comes back into balance. After that I think we will see prices begin to increase steadily again.’

Clive Hopkins
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