The key to a successful farm sale or letting is to ensure it looks its best when people come to view it. Julie Liddle, director of Robson and Liddle, outlines a checklist for successful farm viewings.
I’ve been involved in countless farm sales over the years, and it’s almost always the case that the ones to sell quickest, and on the best terms, are usually well looked after.
While I understand the reluctance to invest in something you’re about to sell, I cannot overstate how important this is if you want to save time and money in the long-run. Farm sales and lettings are generally won or lost on first impressions.
So, here’s some tips for getting it right.
Keep sowing and growing
While much depends on the time of year (and it’s usually best to advertise a farm in the spring and summer months), it’s advisable to continue farming as though you were intending to stay. This means sowing crops as normal and allowing grass to flourish. It is easy to negotiate an ingoing for this later or to add a holdover clause to the farm sale or tenancy agreement.
Don’t let maintenance fall by the wayside
It’s imperative that essential maintenance continues. I had the joy of handling a recent farm letting where every fence was standing, every gate swung true and where the farmhouse and out-buildings were clean and well-maintained. Of course, it was snapped up straightway.
As well as fences and gates, make sure you fill in potholes, clean out gutters, kill off weeds and generally keep the basics in check. Pick rubbish, such as plastic and twine, the odd tin sheet and anything else out of place. Photographs taken by drone can look so attractive but conversely show every conceivable item that’s out of place.
Ensure all essential records are in place
As well as the physical state of the farm itself, the farm records and essential documents are equally important. A sale for example, can easily be slowed down if important information the buyers’ solicitors have requested is missing. You should be able to produce at least five years of information on such things as cropping, yields, soil tests (if any), drainage plans (if any), milk yields, and so on. For a sale or letting, wayleave, boundary responsibilities, land designation such as NVZ, and all scheme information, including forestry or woodland, also needs to be to hand. The list is fairly extensive.
Full disclosure, prevents last minute problems
If there are any potential obstacles to the sale of your farm property, such as rights of way or utility issues, these need to be addressed as early as possible. If it’s not possible to resolve these matters in the short term, it’s best to be honest and up front with people at the start. They are less likely to lose confidence in you and your advisors if you’ve made them aware. It will prevent the sale falling through if issues come to light early and not at the last moment to take the people by surprise.