Buying on a tight budget
Country Smallholding|November 2020
As demand for smallholdings increases and prices continue to rise, is there a way to achieve your dream without forking out a fortune? In the first part of a new mini-series, Liz Shankland explores the possibilities

Anyone searching for a smallholding this year will have seen a big change in the market. Parcels of land in the countryside — with or without property — are being snapped up faster than ever before as an increasing number of people set their sights on living far from the bustle of urban life.

Right now anything in an attractive location that has a decent amount of outside space seems to be selling well — and for good money, too. Although property experts predict turbulent times ahead for the sale of conventional homes, it seems likely that smallholdings, along with land with development potential, will continue to be popular.

Not surprisingly some enterprising sellers have been hiking up their prices to cash in on the boom. Recent examples include a five-acre property in the north of England which, before the coronavirus lockdown restrictions were announced, had been on the market for months priced at £525,000. Once lockdown was lifted, it was re-advertised at £725,000, and it sold within days. At around the same time, property hunters in Somerset saw the price of one smallholding shoot up by an extra £300,000 — and again it sold.

As highlighted in Country Smallholding’s September issue, estate agents have reported record sales of rural properties, particularly those with several bedrooms or outbuildings suitable for conversion into workshops or home offices as more people have warmed to the idea of working remotely.

Government incentives to kick-start the property market and get people moving again are likely to have been a contributing factor. In July land transaction tax — or stamp duty — concessions were announced in the UK. Buyers in England and Northern Ireland were told that, if they completed before April 2021, they would pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of the property price; in Scotland and Wales the equivalent tax threshold rose from £145,000 to £250,000.

So, if you don’t have a bottomless pot of money, or a cosy relationship with a friendly estate agent who will give you a tip-off before something suitable goes on the market, just how can you afford to get hold of some land where you can create the perfect home?

WORKING ON YOUR WISHLIST

Why not start by assessing whether you might be asking for too much? Most of us have a vision of what our dream home will look like. Sadly what we want and what we can afford are often at opposite ends of the spectrum. Sometimes we have to compromise. It might help to consider which things on your wishlist are really essential, and which you can do without — at least for now. Once you’ve worked out your budget, take time to consider the points listed here, some of which can have an impact on asking prices and popularity. The key is to prioritise what is really important to you.

LOCATION

• Where do you need to be? Could you widen your search area and look further afield? Would you consider another county — or even another country?

• Do you have to have easy access to motorways or public transport?

• Would you look at a really remote property, or are you determined to be close to key amenities like shops and schools?

• How would you feel about being on a busy road, or near a noisy — or smelly — commercial business?

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