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The Definitive Guide to Buying & Selling Rural Land

Whether you refer to it as ‘Rural Land’, ‘Farming Land’, or ‘Agricultural Land’, owning your own land can be a shrewd and wise business decision.

In this following guide you will learn more about how you can buy rural land for commercial purposes as well as how you can sell rural land should you find yourself in possession of such an asset.

Due to industrialisation, and the subsequent economic shift, the majority of the UK’s population resides within towns and cities throughout the country, as opposed to living rurally. Naturally as a consequence of urban migration and a preference for urban dwellings, most of the rural land in the UK is typically used for farming and other commercial purposes rather than being used to build individual homes. 


Buying Rural Land

As opposed to simply buying an existing property, and modifying the premises to suit your needs, buying rural land for commercial purposes can be a great way to get both the required space and design you desire. 

Buying land can also help to future-proof your business, and allow for easier accommodation of any new facilities or expansions that your business may need further down-the-line.

Most commercial rural land in the UK is typically used for farming purposes. However, farming is not the only reason for owning such land.


What’s the Lands’ Purpose?

If you have decided to buy rural land the first thing you need to do is decide on its purpose. While land is undoubtedly more flexible than buying a pre-built commercial property, there is little-to-no point in buying land without first understanding what you and your business plan to do with the land.

As a business owner it is important to visualise what purpose the land will serve (doubly so if you must answer to stakeholders), and have a clear understanding of what your company will use the land for.

Typically, rural land is used for farming and other agricultural purposes, but depending on the nature of your business, you could also use the land as a development site for commercial offices, industrial warehouses or even residential properties. However, it’s important to remember that you might need planning permission for certain structures.


Do I need planning permission? 

A common misconception with land ownership is that once bought, it is yours to do with as you please. While the purchased land is indeed yours, depending on what you do with the land, you may still need planning permission before being able to carry out your vision.

As mentioned in the link above, planning permission is required if you wish to change the purpose of your land into something else (e.g. into an ‘out-of-town’ business park) or build a housing estate.

You do not require planning permission however to change the interior of any existing buildings on the land (if any are present). Before beginning any work on your land however, it is a good idea to speak with the local planning authority in your area first.

For more information please see the links below:


How to Buy Rural Land?

If you have decided that buying rural land for commercial purposes is right for you and your business, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are a number of ways that you can buy rural land in the uk.

Below we have detailed the three most common ways that rural land is bought in the UK. Of course, should you know, or be recommended to purchase rural land from outside of these sources you are well within your rights to do so. Regardless of which method you choose, it would be prudent to still consider undertaking property surveys to learn more about the land. 

  • Online

If you’re looking online to buy commercial land in the UK, then look no further than Commercial People, the quintessential, free-to-list property portal. As a leading online property portal, you’ll be able to find a wide range of rural land plots throughout the country, with practically every shire and county catered for.

Searching for rural land online is often an effortless process as long as you are already familiar with the area you’re looking for. 

While you could choose to go directly to an estate agent who specialises in land sales, with the help of Commercial People in particular, you can find great deals from a number of agents in any region. Typically, going with an online portal will give you a greater chance of finding a hidden gem. 

  • Offline 

If you prefer the more personal approach you can of course choose to conduct your property search entirely offline, foregoing property portals and online agencies, instead focusing on agencies with a physical presence. 

While this approach to land searching is becoming increasingly rare, if you’ve already established a business relationship with a particular commercial agency, then it could be less time consuming to ask the agency to find rural land that suits your requirements.

  • Auctions

One of the most common ways to buy commercial rural land is through an auction. Typically, buying via an auction can be a great way to grab yourself a bargain and get agricultural land for far less than you otherwise would by going via an agency or a landowner directly. 

However, despite the much discussed positives of buying at an auction, it is important to consider that there are a myriad of potential nightmare scenarios that can occur as well, especially if you’re not very well versed in how auctions work.

One of the major pitfalls to avoid when buying anything via an auction is to pay far more than the land is actually worth. It’s important to pay attention to the guide price of the land, as this will often indicate how much it is potentially worth should you wish to sell the land at a later date. 

Bidding blindly on a listing without first seeing the premises for yourself is also one  of the worst mistakes you can ever make at an auction. Like all property purchases, research is vital. Before entering an auction it’s generally considered a good idea to conduct a viewing and have your conveyancer review the legal pack.

Legal packs are a compiled package of documentation that reveals all the information you need to know about the premises that you’re intending to buy. Typically legal packs will include the results of any searches carried out on the land, as well as any special conditions of the sale, such as the details of any land or facilities that are let to another company. Legal packs are essential when looking to buy commercial property via an auction, as the premises will often have a current tenant that is residing on the property/land at the time of its sale. 

Required Surveys

When buying rural land, one of the most important surveys to consider undertaking is an environmental search.

As the name suggests, an environmental search will survey the environment (including the land itself) to ascertain whether the premises are contaminated or at risk of flooding.

Contaminated land is caused by the existence of hazardous substances in the air and soil, and is usually found at sites which used to be owned by industrial and manufacturing firms that may have not properly disposed of their waste. Depending on the severity of the contamination, contaminated land can pose a serious danger to your health and others, especially if you are raising farm animals on the land.

Typically, an Environmental Search is carried out using historic data and maps of the area to ascertain the likelihood of contamination. However, should the polluter who contaminated the land not be found, the current owner of the land could be held responsible to pay for the land’s remediation. As such, it’s important to conduct an environmental search before committing to buying any rural land. 

Beyond an Environmental Search you should also consider asking about any pipelines or footpaths that could affect the land, as well as the existence of any nearby protected areas


Selling Rural Land


While many guides often extol the virtues of buying land, very few detail the process of selling said land.

Depending on the purpose that your land serves (or previously served), selling your commercial agricultural land is a relatively straightforward process.

In the following section we will outline how you can sell your commercial rural land, and the avenues that are available to you.

Things to Consider before Selling

When looking to sell your land it’s important to take into consideration a few things before you go ahead and list your land for sale.

One of the most important things you can do, and something that is overlooked (at least on a commercial-level) is to firstly consider who the future buyer of the land may be. 

While it might seem counterintuitive to care about the potential needs of a currently unknown buyer, it’s important to understand that in order for you to successfully sell your land, you need a new buyer to come and take it off of your hands. As such, failing to ensure that the land is attractive and appealing to potential buyers is a sure-fire way to end up sitting on a unsellable asset.

So, how can you go about making your land more appealing to potential buyers? Especially when you don’t know exactly what they are looking for yet? One of the most sure-fire ways to garner more attention to your land is to seek and obtain planning permission for site-appropriate developments prior to selling. By obtaining planning permission for future structures, you’ll be able to make the life of a potential buyer that much easier. Any buyer who wishes to expand or use the space for a specific purpose will already have the permission to develop on the land, thus making your land more appealing to buyers.

In addition to planning permission, if you own agricultural land that you’re using for farming, it’s important to try to put your land on the market when your premises is thriving and its best. While the farming sector is becoming less seasonal, the time when your crops or livestock are plentiful will often make a much stronger impression on a potential buyer, even if livestock and crops are not included in the sale. A healthy, well presented and thriving farm will attract more interest than a parcel of land that has clearly seen better days.

Lastly, one of the other key things to consider when selling commercial rural land is the existence or planned construction of nearby developments. While your land might be vast and of course, reside in a rural location, that does not mean that you’ll always have the luxury of having no other developments/neighbours in the surrounding area. As such, it’s important to understand that the sale of your land can be both positively and negatively affected by any developments in the surrounding areas. 

As a landowner it’s vital that you stay aware of any developments or sales in the area such as new roads, other rural facilities and any land sales that may have recently occurred. New roads, train lines or flight paths can have both an adverse and positive impact on the value of your land. 

Should you be raising animals or livestock, a new nearby road could actually cause the value of your land to rise. Roads are typically the most commonly used method to transport goods around the UK and as such, a new road could significantly cut down transportation times and improve the connectivity of your land to major cities, ports and motorways for instance. 

However, a new commercial flightpath over your land, could result in an increase of noise pollution. Meanwhile, a train line close by to your previously secluded farm could scare and unsettle your livestock. In the event that you’ve been finding it difficult to recruit and attract new employees to your rural commercial facility however, then the existence of a new trainline/station could make your land more attractive to new employees, thus adding another feature that could boost the price of your land.

With all of the above considered, as a landowner it’s important to remember that failing to keep abreast of local developments and potentially even national or international conditions, could result in your land losing value if you were to put it on the market at the wrong time.


How to Sell Rural Land? 

Similar to selling commercial or residential property, there are typically three ways that you can sell commercial rural land in the UK.

  • Online

If you’re looking online to sell commercial land online then look no further than Commercial People. As a landowner, Commercial People’s leading online property portal, will allow you to sell your land and market it to thousands of potential buyers throughout the UK. 

To start selling your land on Commercial People, all you need to do is click here and enter your details. After doing so, we will pass your information to an estate agent in your local area who will be able to help you further and upload your property to our service.

  • Offline 

Much in the same way as selling your land online via Commercial People or another property portal, you can also directly approach estate agencies to help you sell your land. Typically, commercial land sales are conducted by specialist estate agencies that have years of experience in the sector, and are effectively experts on the nuances of selling rural land. 

  • Auctions

As with buying land, one of the most common ways to sell commercial rural land is also through an auction. Typically, selling your land via auction is a lot more straightforward than dealing with agencies, and can often be a great way to sell your property quickly. 

However, should you wish to seek the highest price possible, an auction might not always be the most suitable way to find a buyer. Auction houses tend to attract bargain hunters, so unless your land is highly appealing, and creates some competition amongst bidders, you might find that an auction could result in a lower-priced sale than you were expecting. 

Thankfully, as a seller you’re often able to state a ‘reserve price’. A reserve price is a confidential minimum sale price that you have agreed with the auction house prior to any bidding taking place. Commonly, a reserve price may be up to 10% higher than the lands guide price and protects you from loosing a significant amount of money in the event that a competitive bidding war does not occur.

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