Lancashire’s rural property sector has, like any property sector, within any county, faces its own share of challenges over the years.
I would split the sector into 2 areas, Agricultural and Rural Residential.
The rural property sector in Lancashire covers a wide area in terms of the type of property. This diversity is something about which we should be truly proud. The county enjoys some of the most fertile Grade 1 land in the UK, situated around Hesketh Bank, Tarleton and South West Lancashire generally whilst at the same time some of the least productive land, in elevated positions offer some of the most diverse wildlife habitats in the country.
The rural housing stock is diverse too. Period Houses always create interest as do Barn Conversions and farmhouses. Additionally we now see more modern designs and eco-houses.
I think it is fair to say that the market is in two main sections. There is firstly the agricultural rural property sector and secondly the remainder of the market that is classified more along the lines of rural residential or perhaps even equestrian rural property.
Back in the early parts of this millennium the rural property sector throughout the country enjoyed rude health. There were a great number of purchasers who were capable of borrowing larger sums of money and this gave heat to the million pound plus sector of the market. Rural property house price inflation always appeared to be at a higher level than urban property, even in none prime markets however this could not be continued and like the rest of the property market the bubble burst. In our opinion the rural property market has previously be hit by not only falls in prices but also falls in the amount of borrowing that the prospective purchasers have previously been able to acquire.
I think the principle challenges at present relate to sensible, realistic and professional pricing of opportunities that wish to be disposed of. Well-proportioned and well-presented rural opportunities will still sell well and we have examples of properties that have sold at or close to guide price with a great deal of interest being created through proper pricing.
The agricultural sector of the market is wholly different by comparison. Agricultural land continues to be sought after by a mixture of agricultural, equestrian and investment purchasers. Tax breaks still exists and the rates of return, based upon current rents, are seen as reasonable taking into account the investment returns of other opportunities.
Demand continues to outstrip supply for whole farms and various reports such as the Savills agricultural land market survey predict up to 40% increases in land value over the next 5 years.
Overall the amount of agricultural land and the number of properties with agricultural land continue to diminish by the very nature that urban areas continue to expand.
Good villages with services always attract prospective purchasers from a residential point of view and the ultimate home is often seen by some as having a character dwelling, a spacious plot of maybe up to a couple of areas yet being within easy walking distance of the village facilities and school.
Development pressures continue with well serviced villages facing challenge from developers and local authorities struggle to meet their housing supply figures.
One threat to the market that had previously been in existence was the availability of rural broadband. Two or three years ago we had seen an example of a property deal falling through because of poor broadband speeds however the presence now of services such as Boundless or Sonic mean that this is no longer a concern. In addition the continued threat of snow and concerns from people in respect of long rural driveways can also be a slight issue.
In terms of the future for rural property we firmly believe that this is a buoyant one.
The presence of large areas of protected land and rural properties having a certain presence in terms of their view and the facilities that they offer mean that within the diverse county of Lancashire there will be a number of opportunities that will be seen as sought after due to their rural position yet their good accessibility through the county’s well positioned motorway network.