Rural property in the United Kingdom (UK) continues to appreciate in value and is proving a worthy hedge against price volatility in metro areas. Analysts at Carter Jonas and Smiths Gore report that farmland outperformed both residential and commercial property in terms of total returns for 2012, and experts attribute the 9.9% annual return on restricted supply and the agricultural significance of the land. Rural property has maintained solid returns for the past five consecutive years while other types of property slide up and down peaks and troughs in the market, making it a good buy for portfolio diversification. For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.
Rural property delivered another year of strong growth in 2012 for real estate investors, narrowly missing out on a second year of double digit returns, new data shows.
Total returns of 9.9% in 2012 outpaced those of commercial and residential property, according to Carter Jonas and Smiths Gore, sponsors of the IPD Rural Property Investment Index.
It is acting as a substantial inflation hedge, according to Giles Wordsworth, head of national farms and estates agency at Smiths Gore. ‘The main driver of growth has been from capital value increases, which was 8.2% during 2012, higher than residential property which had 5.9% capital growth, and prime commercial property, which saw capital values fall 2.2% over the same period,’ he said.
According to Richard Liddiard, head of rural agency at Carter Jonas, rural property has continued to stand out as an attractive capital hold since the downturn. ‘While values for commercial property almost halved in some areas and the volatility of equities deterred risk averse investors, rural property values only dropped 0.4% in 2008 and have risen by an average of 7% per year since the start of the recession in 2008,’ he explained.
Over the last five years, rural property has returned 8.9% per annum, against 0.7% from commercial property, 4.6% from residential, 2.1% from equities and 8.8% from bonds. Many also seek to take advantage of the beneficial tax status afforded to rural holdings.
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For the £2.7 billion of assets measured by the index around the UK, improvements in the economic drivers of the UK’s agricultural sector have underpinned this growth, as well as the increasing potential for alternative use.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform, which had led to fears about the reduction of financial assistance to farmers, will be more benign than originally thought, the experts believe. It continues to support the financial viability of UK farms, while growth in demand for UK farm commodities and food has similarly helped.
They also point out that the recent horse meat scandal and other domestic issues have increased the demand for UK grown and reared produce, while long term fears about global food supplies continue to support UK food production. Indeed, there is growing voice to the argument that agricultural produce is another form of demographic linked investment, which, like elderly care, can lead to constant growth in demand.
Potential alternative use of land for renewable energy production is also an incentive, according to the firm. Although wind farms have proven divisive and planning permission can be tricky to obtain, solar farms and hydropower are alternatives that are more accepted by the general public and are growing fast. And with long-term government backed financial support and growing pressure from the European Union to meet strict green targets, the potential to produce renewable energy is huge.
It also points out that a lack of investment grade stock to buy remains a hindrance, which makes investing at a large scale reliant on doing off-market deals. For smaller private investors, there are many more opportunities to buy into the sector.
The beneficial tax status of the sector, with Inheritance Tax relief for owner-occupied land, acts as an incentive for many. Equally, the long game potential, whereby a development opportunity such as a shopping centre or housing estate 20 years in the future, can considerably hike up returns.
‘The continued strength of rural investment property shows that it has a serious part to play in investment portfolios that need to offset volatility and risk with stable, solid performance,’ said Liddiard.
‘As well as good recent performance, longer term returns will be boosted by the increasing demand for British farm products and the ongoing drive for new sources of energy, while continued unrest in traditional investment markets is pushing more and more investors into this sector,’ he added.
Phil Tily, managing director for the UK and Ireland, said that a growing awareness of rural land has emerged in the last five years, as large and small investors are increasingly thinking outside the box to diversify their returns. ‘For its diversification potential and capital hold characteristics the sector is hard to beat, and with improvements in the economic fundamentals underpinning the sector, rural land will continue to look attractive as an asset,’ he explained.
This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.