After a summer of staycations, the rural sector looks set to continue benefiting from an uplift in domestic tourism which shows no signs of abating.
The British countryside proved a place of refuge and relaxation for those desperately craving a change of scene once lockdown restrictions were eased, leading experts to name 2020 ‘The Year of the Staycation.’
However most predict this is a trend that will last well beyond 31 December.
Wherever you’re considering selling property and land or planning on diversifying, Carter Jonas says now is the perfect time to take advantage of one of the few positive trends to come out of 2020.
Associate Partner Stephen Richards, who heads up Carter Jonas Leisure, reports that figures for the 2021 season already look extremely encouraging as holidaymakers anticipate further restrictions and plan ahead.
“The year’s holiday season is expected to run until December after initially being delayed by lockdown,” he adds. “And many people are booking ahead for next year because demand is so high.”
As a result, purchasing a leisure property has become an exciting investment opportunity - and Stephen believes there has never been a better time for those considering selling up.
“I would estimate that 80% of buyers interested in purchasing leisure properties are looking to make a big lifestyle change - emboldened by the Stamp Duty holiday and reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, most are searching for a business that will give them an idyllic lifestyle while also providing a means of income,” he says.
Purchasing an existing business is a better proposition for buyers, as setting up something new from scratch takes a significant amount of time.
“Securing planning permission, building the business and then establishing it will take three years,” Stephen says.
“You’re much better off buying something that is already established and adding to it.”
Considering potential uses for land and seeing untapped potential that could prove lucrative is also key, he believes.
“We put a site with woodland and sea views on the market on 24 March, at the beginning of lockdown,” Stephen says.
“Since July, when people were able to attend viewings again, we’ve had 100 offers - all saying they want to buy it in order to set up a glamping business.”
Stephen, who has worked in the industry since 1997, believes the leisure property market is currently in the best shape he’s ever seen it.
“I’ve seen many ups and downs over the past 20 years - from foot-and-mouth disease to the credit crunch,”
he explains. “Right now, the market is as good as I’ve ever known it. The demand for staycations has never been higher.”
The firm’s Senior Surveyor, Rob Bowyer
, warns against setting up a holiday accommodation diversification just to take advantage of the current interest.
It is vital that any form of diversification suits the farm but, more critically, the farmer, he believes.
“We see an enormous number of failed diversification projects that haven’t worked because the person undertaking them was just the wrong person for the job,”
“If you don’t like people, you probably shouldn’t be running a campsite or a B&B. If the idea of sitting in a shop and choosing stock fills you with dread, then a farm shop is probably not for you. Choose what you’re good at and what you like doing.”
The next step is to ensure the farm is also suited to the project.
“It’s a balancing act of finding out where your skills lie and then determining how you can capitalise on that on the farm,” Rob says. “That’s why so many farms diversify into agricultural contracting - they’re people who love farming but they can’t make the right amount of money on their farm.”
Finally, he believes seeking professional advice is essential.
“A good team of advisers will be able to tell you whether or not you need to diversify,”
“There is a lot of pressure on farmers to do it because a diversified risk profile is good business, but I wonder if many diversify because they feel they ought to. If your farm accounts are really good, there are other ways of spreading your risk.”