Brexit still the watchword for rural estates and the super rich
A tiny percentage rise in residential and agricultural net income and 121 house sales in the London prime market hasn’t got the nation dancing in the streets, muses Rupert Bates
Estate benchmarking is not some ancient rural craft, with carpenters chiselling out words on wooden seats: “Here slept his Lordship on several occasions after one too many drams on the moor”.
No, estate benchmarking refers to an annual survey of English estates by savills and on the basis we’ll cling to any good news amid the most feral of political catfights in living memory, it is refreshing to learn that there was a small rise in net income – a whole 0.3%, to be precise.
Residential and agricultural assets remain the key revenue generators. “Many owners have been giving renewed focus to opportunities for diversification,” explains Ian Bailey of savills.
“Many privately owned estates are looking to new trading businesses as a source of additional revenue and as a means of managing down the risk of the impact of Brexit on farm incomes.”
Bailey stresses that with the changes in UK agricultural policy, it is important for landowners and managers to understand the impact of the demise of direct payments on their finances as well as tenants’ finances.
Rupert Clark of savills says the resilience of rural estates heavily exposed to farming will be especially tested as Brexit plays out, with “significant disruption to come in the way land is farmed and managed”.
Meanwhile, in a land far, far away – from your correspondent, at least – in a state called London super-prime, Knight Frank tells us that the total value of £10 millionplus transactions in the second quarter of this year was £707 million, nearly a quarter up on the same period in 2017.
the number of prospective buyers in this exalted price range has risen, too, as have viewings. Vendors may be looking to bail before Brexit, with purchasers sniffing out bargains amid the mind- and marketnumbing negotiations, or there is a depth of pocket that no Kafkaesque chaos can touch.
Price reductions have triggered some activity but political uncertainty is still curbing demand, says tom van straubenzee of Knight Frank. this also suggests there is pent-up demand to be released when, or if, certainty rides into town.
“the weakness of sterling remains a big demand driver, as well as the fundamental that London remains a place people want to live and work. should there be a pragmatic outcome to Brexit negotiations, I believe we could see the market pick up noticeably,” says Paddy Dring of Knight Frank.
Considering there were just 121 housing transactions in the London super-prime price range during the year to last June, that note of optimism will not exactly have the nation dancing in the streets. I, for one, need one too many drams and a lie down. Mark my bench, would you?