Buying a Smallholding: What to consider

For many the idea of upping sticks and moving to the country to raise livestock and live off the land is one of great appeal.

In recent years we have seen an increase in the number of clients coming to us seeking help in finding their smallholding.

Living the ‘good life’

When people talk about living the good life they’re often referring to a way of life that is self-sufficient and sustainable.

Your plans for a smallholding might have other driving factors but the pull towards this way of life has likely gotten something to do with being more connected to the resources you use each and every day.

If you don’t have a background in farming and don’t really know what type of property would be best you could get yourself into a pickle and never realise your dream.

There are courses available in various locations that will provide a rounded basic education and you can always spend some time volunteering via the WWOOF at an organic farm to get some hands on experience.

A different meaning to working from home

Running your own smallholding gives an entirely new meaning to working from home – your home and its land becomes your business.

Consumers have never been more keen to understand the origins of the food they’re eating, organic produce from a well-run farm or smallholding can be an extremely lucrative business if you get it right. Which is why it is so important that you have a real idea of the type of business you’d like to run before you look for a property.

Farms and smallholdings that produce sustainable forms of meat and dairy, perhaps following traditional rotational systems, maintaining permanent pasture lands and operating conservation grazing might be the future of farming in the UK.

There are many that would like to run their own smallholding and make money from their produce whilst also making a difference to the ecosystem on their land and people’s diets with wholesome food.

Buying and running a rural business

Whilst the dream of owning a smallholding and living off the land is one that you’d imagine to be very hands on and get you away from a desk, as you’ll likely be operating a business rather than keeping the animals as pets, there will be paperwork involved.

You must register appropriately before keeping livestock amongst other rules and regulations, as well as attending specialist courses there are several reputable sites that can offer guidance if you’re just getting started.

Types of smallholding

Before looking for a property to buy you must decide which animals you hope to keep and/or which crops you’d like to grow. Different animals prefer different types of terrain and have differing needs, you’ll need to factor this in when considering outbuildings, existing or the cost of building.

If you’re planning to grow crops you’ll need land that will work for this, although it might seem obvious that woodland or heathland would not prove ideal if you plan to grow crops your smallholding might have a mixture of different land types – is there enough of the right sort of land for what you want to do?

Finding a rural property

Occasionally a smallholding may be advertised on one of the usual property portals but as they don’t conform with typical property types you may not discover them within the search filters you’ve set meaning you might have to sieve through a lot of unsuitable property online.

There are a few specialist selling agents dotted across the UK and it’s also worth looking at specialist magazines and newspapers as they may be listed there too. Farm property often arises at auction so it’s important to note auction houses in the area you’re looking and when their next auction is coming up.

Clients often come to us, frustrated with their search, when seeking a smallholding as they simply cannot find the right property or any property at all.

Buying a smallholding

Finding a smallholding that works for your purposes and is a place you’d like to live is just one part of the journey.

You’ll need to engage a specialist rural mortgage adviser if you’re hoping to finance the purchase partly by borrowing money.

When you’ve found the property and proceed to purchase it would be wise to instruct a suitable solicitor who has experience in the area.

We would also suggest that you instruct a specialist rural surveyor prior to purchasing a property.

Search for the perfect property

Our team of country property finders have experiencing in sourcing and acquiring rural property on the behalf of private clients. If you’d like to learn more about how our services would work for your unique property search please, contact us.

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