Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
SRP - Land Reform Report D3.2 - Rural Land Values Sales and Investment Trends (v6).pdf (1.5 MB)

Rural Land Values, Sales and Investment Trends (Research Briefing)

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Version 3 2024-03-27, 16:13
Version 2 2024-01-04, 14:38
Version 1 2023-12-13, 08:54
posted on 2024-01-04, 14:38 authored by James Glendinning, Ian MerrellIan Merrell

What were we trying to find out?

This briefing investigates changes in Scottish land values and the trends in investment that have been driving these changes. Previous research has highlighted that land values in Scotland have been increasing.

What did we do?

Secondary data on land values was collated from land agency market reports. Values were adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index in order to account for changes in the overall level of prices over time, then analysed to consider key trends.

Supplementary data on commercial forestry and carbon markets was also sought to further investigate trends in investment and land sales, as demand from these users has previously been identified as contributing to rising land values.

Long term changes in arable land values were compared to Scottish house prices for context.

What did we learn?

We further investigated the much-reported findings that land values at the low and high end of the Scottish land market were drastically increasing. Marginal land (typically defined as land with low productivity and economic value (Shortall, 2013)) has shown the highest levels of growth over recent years, spurred by interest from the commercial forestry sector and natural capital investors. We used various indicators to show there is variance in marginal land sales prices, primarily whether it is suitable for tree planting. Although growth in previous years has been stark, factors driving these changes appear to have recently slowed, with applications to the Woodland Carbon Code slowing, timber prices falling, and an overall fall back from the peak values seen in 2021.

What do we recommend and what happens next?

To continue to monitor key indicators over time to build a stronger picture of land market dynamics over time, as well as helping to explain why this is occurring. The next update will be published in 2024.


Scottish Government, Rural and Environmental Sciences and Analytical Services (RESAS)


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