Spring in the countryside (part II)

Gold bullion, prime London real estate, muddy fields. If it sounds like there’s an odd one out in that list, there is – in recent years, the muddy fields have proved to be a much more lucrative investment than the other two, as a perfect storm of voracious demand and scarce supply has driven land values to an all-time high, with continued annual growth predicted at 6%. As an asset, land has a unique set of characteristics. It is reassuringly tangible and durable, it is finite – they aren’t making any more of it, as the cliche goes – and it can be used in many different ways by different types of investors. Land is also extremely illiquid, and it exerts a powerful psychological hold over its owners, which can foil economists’ best efforts to predict how it will perform. So how long can values really continue to rise? And what does this rush of investor interest mean for the farming industry itself? That’s what I set out to discover in this feature for Modus, the magazine of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.