The appeal of the UK’s green spaces is at an all-time high following the Covid-19 pandemic, and prices have risen accordingly as more people seek a rural lifestyle. Demand for houses with land has soared and many buyers are looking towards Wales, traditionally considered to offer greater value for money and with rural appeal in abundance.
The working from home trend means that buyers are widening their search areas as spending five days a week in the office becomes outdated for many occupations. This, combined with the reliability of broadband in many areas, means that smallholdings for sale in Wales are firmly in the spotlight.
Traditional smallholding buyers now face greater competition from a range of purchasers and rising land values in some areas is inevitably pushing up the price of smallholdings: a major factor in many sales is the condition of the house.
Who purchases Welsh smallholdings?
Smallholdings attract different types of buyers, ranging from those who simply want subsistence living from the land to others seeking a commercial enterprise. If the aim is to grow produce, the soil quality is important and ideally needs to be well-drained with a water supply.
For buyers keen to live in the countryside but not farm the land, due to a lack of desire or knowledge, contract farming arrangements with nearby farmers may provide a solution: the farmer undertakes sowing and harvesting operations on a profit-share basis.
More substantial smallholdings may attract environmentally minded buyers interested in a property offering natural capital assets such as forestry and biodiversity net gain opportunities.
Location is vital in assessing opportunities for alternative income streams. It is important to investigate potential markets to identify areas which may be under-provided.
Consideration could be given to renting out land for grazing, providing livery stabling, creating tourist ventures such as camp sites or holiday accommodation. Vacant buildings could potentially be converted, subject to planning consent, and rented out for a variety of tourism or businesses uses, such as local craft enterprises. Depending on budget, buying a going concern with a business and customer base already in place could be attractive.
If the holding can grow vegetables, proximity to farmers’ markets, other types of market and tourist hubs is relevant. Sales from the holding might prove workable depending on access and the level of passing traffic. Selling to hotels, niche caterers and restaurants may also be advantageous. Rearing stock might provide viable depending on the breed and the land: hardy native breeds can be ideal, requiring minimal husbandry and capable of living outside all year round.
Welsh smallholdings currently on the market
At the top end of the market is an 18th century farmhouse at Cwmdwyfran, priced at offers in the region of £895,000. Four miles from Carmarthen in south Wales, this seven-bedroom property stands in 14.6 acres and overlooks the Gwili River valley. It has commercial interest as there are also two self-contained two-bedroom letting cottages along with a traditional range of outbuildings. The property includes 1.5 acres of woodland.
At the lower end of the price scale is a one-bedroom detached chalet near Kidwelly, southwest Wales, which is priced at £235,000. It has 12 acres of land within the Gwendraeth valley, along with a range of general-purpose buildings and the option of purchasing a further 60 acres by negotiation.
With a guide price of £550,000, 15 acres of land come with a four-bedroom property at New Cross, five miles from Aberystwyth. In need of some modernisation, the house retains original features and has views over the Ystwyth valley. The sale comprises outbuildings and a small, wooded area.
An interesting business opportunity is offered with the sale of a four bedroomed self-catering cottage set in one and a half acres, with a coarse fishing lake, caravan and camping area in the Brecon Beacons National Park which is on the market for £495,000. Close to the village of Trap, Llandeilo, the property is in the foothills of Carreg Cennen Castle and benefits from fishing in the River Cennen. The site has good access and ample parking and is surrounded by woodland. The self-contained cottage currently earns £400 plus per week and the owner has applied for planning permission to create three pods and manager’s accommodation.