Spring Journal 2015

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CHANGING FACES

Leeann Stott, part of the Sales and Rental team for three years, has been appointed Rental Co-ordinator. Leeann has taken over from Moira Haycock who has stepped down from this position in readiness for her retirement later this year. Leeann has a wealth of knowledge in the property sector and is excellently placed to fill the shoes of Moira.

CHARITY

Each year Armitstead Barnett chooses a different charity to support and for the past 12 months this has been the Alzheimer’s Society.

During December members of staff from both offices took part in a Santa Dash at St Catherine’s Hospice, Lostock Hall. In addition to supporting this local charity by doubling our entry fee, we also raised in excess of £1,200 for the Alzheimer’s Society.

We are now looking to find our chosen charity for this year, so if you know of a worthwhile cause, either locally or nationally, which would benefit from our support please contact Tracey Whalley on 01995 603180 or tracey@abarnett.co.uk

NEW FACES

The Armitstead Barnett team continues to expand with the appointment of a number of new people. The three new faces at the Garstang office are Wendy Smyth and Mandy Hamlet in the sales team and Amanda Callaghan as Secretary to James Fish.

The sales team in the Burscough office has also expanded with the appointment of Debbie Roper. Also pictured are assistant surveyor Jack Sharpe and practice manager Tracey Whalley who joined us last year.

EXAM SUCCESS for EMMA

Congratulations to Emma Hodkinson who has passed CAAV and is now a Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers. Emma is now a professionally qualified Rural Chartered Surveyor and is also a member of the RICS. She provides a wide range of advice and services to owners, occupiers and managers of rural land, properties and businesses. If you would like to speak to Emma please call her at our Garstang Office 01995 603180.

HATCHES AND DESPATCHES

Two members of staff are currently on maternity after expanding their families. Hannah Towers gave big brother Henry a sister, Heather, in September, whilst Liz Malek welcomed her daughter Nabila in November. Congratulations to both Hannah and Liz and we look forward to seeing them back later in the year.

We were saddened to say goodbye to Anjana Patel-Martin, secretary to Richard Furnival, who decided to hang up her headphones and retire at the end of 2014. Anjana will be greatly missed in the office but we are sure she is enjoying her new found freedom! Hopefully we will be announcing her replacement in our next newsletter.

DEVELOPMENT LAND VALUES

The question: “How much is my land worth for residential development”

As a common one – sometimes before I’ve even visited a site. Even after a visit it remains a complex question because there is no magic formula and certainly no national rate that can be applied for a quick answer. What it is safe to say however is that the pressure to find land for development is greater than it has ever been, which of course has an impact on end values. While values are undoubtedly on the up, headline rates are so very deceptive because the net receipts can be something completely different if you don’t take proper advice.

  • Development land values depends upon a myriad of things such as:
  • Net developable acreage 
  • Education and other contributions 
  • Infrastructure  Access 
  • Type of development i.e. residential, mixed usage, commercial etc. … and of course negotiation
  •  Services 
  • Ground conditions 
  • Community
  • Infrastructure Levy 
  • Planning consent gained

Pressure on development land values through contributions back to the community is, in my opinion, likely to increase. Local Authority and County Authority budgets have been cut and although in theory the developer pays, make no mistake, this will be coming off the land value.

Land values are forever changing and it is only on the day that the planning consent is granted that it is possible to try to crystallise the actual figures involved in such a fluid landscape.

It is our job as agents to protect landowners as much as possible to ensure that their receipts are kept at a maximum, which is why it is so important to get advice at a very early stage so that we can advise on the best type of agreement for your circumstances and hopefully protect and maximise your asset.

RESIDENTIAL ROUND UP

The village and rural residential market in North West Lancashire was particularly positive in 2014 and much stronger than in previous years.

We saw the first shoots of the recovery reach the Lancashire housing market, a trend which continued throughout 2014 with an improving market which is the most important sign of recovery.

The best performing sectors on the property ladder were first and second properties which were boosted by the government’s ‘help to buy’ scheme, as well as the returning confidence from investors who have come flooding back into the buy-to-let market, allowing property owners to trade up.

The key area of strong demand last year came from commuter belts to the north and north west of Preston, east of Chorley, south west Lancashire, to mention but a few. As ever, the most important elements to secure a sale are location, marketing and price and last year was no different.

It was, and still is, a highly competitive buyer’s market. However with our proactive and cutting edge estate agency department we have achieved some great results. Realistic pricing combined with professional photography, floor plans, vidoettes and bespoke brochures set us apart from the crowd.

Both our offices have highly trained and motivated sales staff who are committed to providing both vendors and purchasers a great level of service, we use the major UK internet property search portals, as well as some specialised sites which are geared towards rural properties. We have also just joined a new exciting property portal called OnTheMarket.com for which we have high hopes.

What has 2015 in offer for the market? I feel that it will continue to gain pace. Outside variables such as continued low interest rates, which should now remain until at least 2016, plus some fantastic longer term fixed rate mortgage deals will deliver a boost to the housing market.

The factor that may affect house sales is lack of stock. Remember the early bird catches the worm, so speak to our sales department to organise a marketing appraisal with one of our RICS qualified and experienced valuers to give you a considered professional opinion to the value of property and offer the best marketing available to achieve the highest possible value. Being early will allow the opportunity to complete any little jobs which would make the house look at its best in haste of being placed upon the market.

For more information on our agency department please call our offices to arrange an appointment today. James E Fish BSc MRICS , Partner 01995 603180 james@abarnett.co.uk

THIS IS WHAT WE’RE GOOD AT

Kingsclere, Bay Horse Sold by PRIVATE TREATY

Pyebrook Hall, Chorley Sold by PUBLIC AUCTION

Land off Langley Lane, Goosnargh Sold by INFORMAL TENDER

BASIC PAYMENT SCHEME

The new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) came into force on January 1 this year and could impact on the way you farm, so it’s important to understand how
it affects you.

The most recent Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy ended Single Payment Scheme and replaced it with the BPS so it’s vital you review the changes in criteria to ensure you can claim when the process starts in May 2015. Key criteria to make a claim under BPS you must:

  •  Be an active farmer
  • Hold BPS Entitlements
  •  Have five hectares or more of land
  • Have the matching number of Entitlements to land

One key change is the introduction of Greening which is a mandatory part of the new rules and will make up 30% of the total payment.

The greening rules in brief are:

Permanent Grass – If the permanent grassland in England compared to the overall area of agricultural land falls by more than 5%, farmers who have ploughed permanent grass may have to reinstate it.

Crop Diversification – If a farmer has 10 or more hectares of arable land, they will have to follow the Crop Diversification Rules and grow a minimum number of crops.

Ecological Focus Area – If a farmer has 15 hectares or more of arable land, they will need to implement an Ecological Focus Area (EFA). The EFA and features used must be equivalent to at least 5% of the total arable area which is declared on the BPS application in May each year.

In certain circumstances exemptions against Crop Diversification and EFA may apply. In order to claim under BPS claimants must register on the new electronic on-line system to create a profile with information of the business and holding. The Rural Payments Agency has already started inviting claimants to register on line to ensure there is sufficient time to confirm details and activate profiles prior to the May 2015 claim being made.

Armitstead Barnett can help you with your BPS application, right through from assisting you create your profile to making your claim, but please contact us as soon as possible to ensure you are ready in time.

Don’t forget that Cross Compliance Rules apply across the whole of the calendar year. Failure to meet the regulations could result in penalty being made to your claim. There are a number of changes that have been introduced under the new scheme so we strongly recommended you read the latest Cross Compliance Guidance. A Young Farmer top up payment of 25% up to a maximum of 90 entitlements may be available for claimants between the ages of 18 – 40.

To qualify, the young farmer claimant must provide evidence that they have taken over control of the business within the last five years. To be in control, a person must be directly exposed to personal and financial benefit or harm from the success or failure of a business. Formal documentation will be required as evidence to confirm this control.

Emma Hodkinson (née Lowis) BSc (Hons) MRICS FAAV, Surveyor 01995 603180 emma@abarnett.co.uk

HAS THE MILK GONE SOUR?

Last year clearly demonstrated to everyone involved in the UK agriculture why it is almost impossible to prepare accurate budgets and forecasts. Who would have predicted in January 2014 where we would be in 2015?

There are a number of reasons for the wholesale weakening of commodity prices with the main one continuing to be the volatility in farm gate prices revolving around the weather – not within the UK, but the bigger agricultural production zones around the globe.

Excellent growing conditions in the northern hemisphere has increased cereal supply to record levels which has depressed prices in the short term. There is some marginal, but very slow, improvement in cereal prices but we might have to wait some time before we see the return of nearly £200/t mark again so the arable sector may need to adjust their farming budgets accordingly.

But the most drastic change is within the UK dairy sector which has gone from a high of above 33ppl last year to mid-20s ppl at the moment – and possibly heading down towards 20ppl depending on milk contracts.

Again worldwide production has been blamed for the reduction in the milk prices. This also coincided with last year’s UK highest milk production for 10 year and the latest Russian embargo.

The forward budgets for dairy farmers do not make comfortable reading for the short term but I am convinced the longer term is more positive, especially when the European markets adjust to life after Milk Quota post March 2015. It’s hard to believe it’s more than 30 years since their arrival! It will be a period of ensuring the best possible farm efficiency and keeping the cost of production to a minimum.

The UK red meat sector has actually benefited from good weather conditions and falling feed prices. The beef sector has seen a reduction in prices from 2013 but they are now on the rise and confidence is coming back into the sector that 2015 is going to see a positive trading position.

The sheep sector again is showing signs for positive trading but there are concerns over the economic situation in Europe and the strengthening of the Sterling against the Euro. This is a vital market for sheep meat as we still export about 35% of production. Not all over-supply is a bad thing for UK agriculture. The drastic collapse in oil prices in the last six months should hopefully reduce input costs such as fuel and fertilizer in the near future.

To sum up, I think we have seen an extremely volatile 12 months ahead and the level of reinvestment in UK agriculture will undoubtedly slow down as farmers cut their cloth accordingly.

So what does this all mean for the Lancashire Land market? My predictions are that we will still see the headline-grabbing rates per acre achieved in 2015, as ever location is a major factor, but I think the larger bare land and whole farm market may be a little more unpredictable. It is always difficult to quote ‘average’ figures per acre, but we have seen a lot of the Lancashire Grade 2 and 3 bare land market transacted within the figures for £7,000 – £10,000 per acre, and I predict that this will stay the same this year.

The ‘whole farm’ market has been helped considerably by scarcity during the last two to three years because very few whole farms have been transacting and those sold have attracted a premium. I suspect this scarcity will help again in the short term. The main theme on land market is the same as the commodity market which is always supply and demand.

Will the land market do the same … if the supply of land on the market increases is there the underlining demand to keep values stable? Now that’s food for thought … Richard D Furnival BSc (Hons) MRICS FAAV, Partner
01995 603180 richard@abarnett.co.uk


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