On-Farm Auction First of its Kind Post Lockdown

Mark Barrow

H&H Land & Estates carries off first successful post lockdown on-site auction of former dairy farm in South Cumbria

For many across Cumbria the traditional method of selling farms and land is by Public Auction, with the sale usually taking place in a public space such as the local town hall or community sports club.

However, in a post-lockdown world, businesses have had to innovate and adapt to new conditions and H&H Land & Estates is pleased to announce the success of the sale of Dove House Farm, near Kirby Lonsdale,  which was put to potential buyers at the farm itself through an on-farm auction. Believed to be the first post lockdown auction in the UK this fifty-acre farm sold for £1 million, approximately 20% more than the guide price.

With five lots on offer, each went to a different buyer, demonstrating the continued enthusiasm for all types of land and rural properties. With strong buoyancy in the market, the evidence of the popularity of rural land and farming prospects in the South Lakes speaks for itself, with the average price per acre reaching: £10,726.

Dove House Farm is a high quality former dairy farm comprising a sizeable four-bedroom farmhouse and a range of modern buildings with surrounding land. It was an ideal small holding for equine enthusiasts and hobby-farmers. Lot 1, the farmhouse, buildings and circa 15 acres of pastureland sold for more than £100k over the asking price at £660,000.

The other individual ring-fenced lots included productive meadow and pasture land, ranging from 2.64 acres to 12.67 acres, which generated particularly keen interest from potential buyers with bids accepted that exceeded their guide price in all cases.

Successful bidders were a range of buyers including neighbouring farmers looking to extend their acreage. The highest sale price achieved was at £17,045 per acre for the smallest plot.

Instead of filling a packed auction room, to allow the sale to go ahead, H&H Land & Estates, took the decision to hold it on the farm, factoring in adherence to government guidelines to reduce the spread of coronavirus. This meant a socially distanced attendance with only one member from each interested party present, and everybody having to register their desire to attend in advance.

This made for a more subdued, but equally competitive bidding arrangement, with every lot seeing the gavel fall on offers in-excess of their guide price.

Mark Barrow, Head of Land Agency of H&H Land & Estates based in Kendal, spoke about the new arrangements: “There is a first time for everything and this definitely was a new experience for us here at H&H. But we knew the sale had to go ahead, so we had to innovate and get out and do business differently. The success of the sale proves that on-farm auctions are now possible and could be the future path forward as we recover from Covid-19. The farm was extremely conveniently located and being elevated offered people the chance to admire the exceptional views over the surrounding landscape.

Mark adds details about the outcome: “With both lots of meadowland and pasture of around 12 acres going for £130,000 and £120,000 respectively, it shows that agricultural opportunities in this area continue to be keenly contested. The sale worked well, and we look forward to more on-farm and in-field auctions over the summer months.”

Looking ahead, Mark expects strong competition for rural properties with accompanying land or agricultural assets. It looks like this first post lockdown auction won’t be the last, it may prove to be the preferential tool in the property auctioneer’s toolkit for carrying out sales in this new socially distanced world. As we head towards the second half of the calendar year, H&H Land & Estates are keen to run more future sales on-site and make the most of this format where able.

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