Rural property round-up reports record year for A&N Estates Ltd

The Aberdeen & Northern (Estates) Ltd team, part of the ANM Group, is looking back on the record successes of the last twelve months as it moves forward into 2016.

From its base at the Thainstone Centre ‘agri-hub’ in Inverurie, the team had an extremely busy year in 2015, successfully marketing a large number of farm properties despite several difficulties faced by the rural market during the course of the year.  James Murphy, Head of Aberdeen and Northern (Estates) Limited gives us a review of the last year and the outlook for 2016:

We found that 2015 finished much like it began, with a range of uncertainties and challenges for the agricultural sector to grapple with. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform proposals have now evolved into policy, but not without a great deal of drama and continued lack of clarity, not least over when farmers will receive payments under the Basic Payment Scheme. The crux of the problem faced by farmers is the cash flow consequence of this delayed payment and how to bridge the potential gap. There are signs that some banks are willing to show flexibility but it is unlikely that this will be applied in a broad brush policy to all their clients and it is almost inevitable therefore that the inability to obtain a payment by an expected date will be enough to push some farming businesses over the brink.

The landlord and tenant relationship is one area where the Scottish Government’s Land Reform (Scotland) Bill is stimulating often heated discussion. As expected, some of the proposals in the Bill are wide ranging, for example providing the right for community bodies to buy land to expand sustainable development which, if implemented as drafted, would mean that the right can be exercised even where the landlord is unwilling to sell. Also of note are the proposed amendments to the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 which again are wide ranging. As with the situation with CAP, the Bill is adding to uncertainty for landowners and tenants and is another consideration for them in their decision-making process.

We haven’t found evidence of these particular uncertainties wholly determining landowners’ decisions to sell their property or a potential purchaser’s decision to enter the market and buy. Aberdeen and Northern (Estates) Ltd achieved significant sales throughout 2015 and we report continued strong interest from sellers and buyers, however there is undoubtedly a more prevalent mood of caution in the market and that is hardly surprising given what has been happening this last year. As the year closed it became abundantly apparent that there remain opportunities in the market for vendors and purchasers alike and that is a vital ingredient in the continuing health of a rural agency business.

Another positive to report is the more extensive valuation advice being sought by clients. Valuation instructions are received from landowners, tenants and their professional advisers such as solicitors, accountants or agricultural consultants and these are for a broad range of purposes like taxation or, in the case of bank lending, for security purposes.  Increasingly, these instructions are broader in scope, with advice being specifically sought on how to maximise value from property assets. We welcome this increasingly sophisticated behaviour in the market and have been pleased to work alongside clients in achieving their aims by adapting our valuation reports to encompass the additional advice being sought.

It would be naive to ignore the challenges ahead. The harvest was a rather mixed success and this, along with challenging commodity prices, the lack of new entrants into the market and the status of the oil and gas sector in North East Scotland will be some of the additional factors which will put pressure on the agricultural sector in 2016. However there are signs of an increasingly sophisticated market at work, one which can identify fresh opportunities and is willing to take good advice in achieving its aim. These are positive signs to hold onto as we prepare for the year ahead.

If you are considering buying or selling rural property this year, or require valuation advice, the Aberdeen and Northern Estates team can provide their local knowledge, national coverage and expertise and would be delighted to assist you.

Planning is now underway for a special networking event in the spring at Thainstone Centre where Aberdeen & Northern Estates will extend an invitation to clients, associates and professionals to deliver a market update.  If you are interested in attending this event, please email

Aberdeen and Northern Estates - Coronavirus update

The health and wellbeing of our employees and customers remains our priority throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Given the Government’s latest guidelines our main office within the Thainstone Centre, Inverurie has been temporarily closed for the time being however, our team are equipped to work from home. We aim to help where we can although we hope you understand that this will involve restrictions.

We will continue to monitor the latest Government guidance and update everyone should our position change.