JANUARY 25, 2008: West Wales and East Anglia are proving the the most popular areas forbuyers looking for a smallholding, according to a a specialist estateagent.

Potential buyers are focusing on these areas as properties here tend tobe more affordable, say Rural Scene, national specialist agents forproperties with land.Director Edward Oldrey told CS: “The Fens, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk are popular because prices are very reasonable. There are masses of properties out there.“West Wales, particularly Carmarthenshire, is popular. Carmarthenshire is more of a smallholders area. East Anglia tends to be more equestrian. Devon and Cornwall have become too expensive for a lot of people.”Mr Oldrey said: “In the early part of last year we saw prices rise, although not significantly. The market was pretty healthy. It went very quiet through the summer months when we would normally expect it to be very busy.”The summer slowdown was probably due to a combination of factors, he said – the flooding, a change of Prime Minister, the problems with Northern Rock and the mortgage crisis in the United States.“We had a pretty busy autumn and winter, with no partticular indication that prices have gone up or down. If a property is nice it has found a buyer.”Mr Oldrey said a new development is that a number of sales have fallen through because lenders have become less willing to offer higher percentage mortgages.“They are becoming more nervous about lending that sort of money,” he said. “With a £500,000 property and an 80 or 90 per cent mortgage, the chances are the bank will kick their heels for quite a time and then not come up with the money. That has been a reason for a number of sales not going ahead that would have done so a year or two ago.”Mr Oldrey said the market is likely to be helped this year if interest rates go down. “If banks and purchasers are a little nervous, and interest rates go down, in the past this has helped to kick the market into gear.”“If you want a guess, I would say that prices will stay pretty steady this year. I certainly don’t think they will go down.”Mr Oldrey said there is an increasing demand for smallholdings. “We deal with a  lot of smallholdings and the equestrian market is growing significantly.“If you go back perhaps ten years, about half of our market was smallholdings and half equestrian properties. You have seen a lot of smallholdings converted into equestrian properties, and that is where a lot of the money is.”Mr Oldrey said a lot of buyers are moving out to the country from the Home Counties and from cities such as Birmingham.He said prices vary tremendously, depending on the area, but an average price for a typical smallholding – a reasonable three or four bedroom house with five or six acres and a small range of outbuildings – would be about £500,000.* MORE:  Rural Scene currently has at least 250 properties on its books. For more details visit www.ruralscene.co.uk or call 01264 850700.

Image(s) provided by: