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Growth in English farmland prices to slow - a bit

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Growth in English farmland prices, already at a record high, is to slow this year but will beat the rates of appreciation seen in 2011 and 2010, Knight Frank said.

Farmland prices in England, the most important UK market, will grow by "nearly" 6% this year, the property consultancy said, an estimate in like with the forecast of "around" 6% growth unveiled by rival Savills last month.

The ongoing strength in the market - even as prices of gold, with which farmland is often associated, have faded – illustrates the appeal of land beyond being a so-called "safe haven" investment, made popular by the global financial crisis.

English farmland values actually accelerated growth last year, to 11.0% from 2.7% in 2012, while gold prices lost nearly 30%.

Size factor

"This ongoing performance highlights why land is increasingly being looked at as a potential investment by wealthy individuals and funds," Knight Frank said.

"Not only does it act as a defensive and inflation-hedging component of portfolios, but can also offer steady and reliable capital growth."

Indeed, the group, while noting that the market was marked by "strong regional differences", identified the strongest demand for bigger deals of appeal to funds.

"I think we will see further price growth for larger blocks of arable land, especially those of interest to investors," Knight Frank said.

'Off-market deals'

Last year's price rise lifted the average farmland price to £6,882 an acre (£17,005 per hectare), on the consultancy's figures.

However, large blocks of high-quality arable land "are changing hands for significantly higher sums than the average reported by our index", said Tom Raynham, head of Knight Frank's agricultural investment acquisitions department.

"Serious investors are increasingly prepared to do off-market deals to secure the right investments," Mr Raynham said.

"Prices have exceeded £10,000 an acre in some cases."

The comments came hours after Creighton University unveiled a deepening reversal in US farmland prices, following rapid price growth over the last five years.

By Agrimoney.com

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