Mortgage advice for buying a smallholding or farm

Mortgage advice for buying a smallholding or farm

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

Considering buying a smallholding or farm? Whether you’re already searching, or about to start looking for your West Country Dream, you’ll need to be fully clued up on the type of mortgages available to you.

We take a look at some key points to bear in mind when seeking your perfect West Country property.

Is there an agricultural tie?

If you’re looking for a farm or smallholding, be aware that it may have an agricultural tie, which can limit the number of lenders available to you.

Agricultural ties, also referred to as Agricultural Restrictions, are sometimes applied to agricultural properties that have been built on a farm/smallholding where development would not usually be allowed.

This means it will have conditions that have to be met in order to live or buy that property. The most common rule is that the house ‘must be occupied by someone who is, or was previously employed, in the locality in agriculture’.

As a result, there tend to be fewer lenders who are willing to mortgage properties that have agricultural ties.

However, properties with ties tend to be much cheaper than those without, so if you don’t have a connection to agriculture you can apply to remove it or rent it out to someone who does!

Farm / commercial mortgage

Many mainstream mortgage lenders will often ask how much land is with the property. If it’s over a certain amount of acreage, you may need to find a specialist mortgage advisor.

A smallholding is usually defined as between two and 20 acres, with anything over this size classed as a farm. If you’re looking for a smallholding with minimal acreage for hobby farming, you could still be entitled to a commercial mortgage.

Using a lender that specialises in agriculture can be advantageous because they will have more knowledge of the industry. Make sure you shop around and talk to a variety of lenders to find a mortgage most suited to you.

Have a business plan

Planning to start up your own farm? Whether you want to keep a flock of sheep or a dairy herd, ensure you have a thorough business plan.

A business plan not only helps you to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve from your farm and how you will attain it, it is also essential to securing a mortgage.

Lenders often require evidence as reassurance you will be able to make the mortgage payments so what better way of showing them than by having a detailed business plan!

Do your research

Whether you’re buying a smallholding to keep a handful of sheep or starting up a dairy farm, do your research to find the most suitable mortgage lender.

The extra time invested initially could save you thousands later down the line.

Searching for a smallholding or farm?

We can help find your perfect property in the West Country, simply give us a call via our contact page or take a look at our land and property services.

Five things to take into account when buying land suitable for cattle

Five things to take into account when buying land suitable for cattle

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture

Planning a ‘mooove’ to the West Country and looking to keep cattle on a smallholding or farm? If so, we’ve highlighted five key things you should bear in mind when it comes to buying land suitable for cattle…


Whether you intend to keep cattle for showing success or supplying milk to the dairy industry, knowing why you want to keep cattle forms the basis of any decision surrounding the purchase of land.

The purpose will help you to establish how much land you need, how many sheds and if you require extra space to cater for future growth. For example, do you vision producing and selling your own dairy or meat products?

If the answer’s yes, then you’ll need to take into account additional space for equipment, such as a creamery, and a suitable location that has good public access for when it comes to selling your products.

Size of farm

Planning to keep a few bullocks to maintain grass, or a medium-sized herd for milk production? Knowing how many cows you want (and need to give you revenue) is essential to determining the number of acres and sheds you’ll need and the price you’ll pay.

Looking to start off with a smallholding? An 18-acre farm with five-bed bungalow and outbuildings in the heart of the Tamar Valley, an Area of Natural Beauty bordering Devon and Cornwall, will cost just under £500,000 (click here to see property); great value if you’re looking for space for your family and a few cows!

Meanwhile, if you’re aiming to set up a large-scale dairy or beef farm, a five-bed house with 100+ acres will be into seven figures.

NB: Bear in mind the rule-of-thumb, which states around 1.5 to 2 acres is needed to feed two cows!

Type of acreage

No matter if your farm or smallholding is 50 acres or 100 acres, you’ll want the best pasture for your cattle to graze on or for crops to grow their winter food on.

The type of land you buy will affect the output and quality of your cattle; you’ll be pleased to know the soil types across the South West are suited to the vast majority of cattle breeds.

If you want more information about soil types, check out the Soilscapes viewer as supported by Defra:


Keeping cattle is a full-time commitment, so when it comes to buying a farm or smallholding you’ll want somewhere you can keep stock all year around.

Fortunately, the South West’s mild climate means cattle can be grazed outside for the large majority of the year, but you’ll need housing for those winter months, especially if you plan to keep dairy cows.

A smallholding with sheds will be hugely beneficial, but have no fear if there aren’t any because there are other options. For example, is there space available and the possibility to gain planning permission for the housing of livestock? This is another route many farmers take to cater for their cows.

The future

What does the future hold for you? Already thinking about owning a large dairy herd, growing your own crops and installing revolutionary equipment to cater for a bigger output? Whether you’re looking for a smallholding or farm, always consider your next steps to save you having to uproot and restart your dream elsewhere.

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Six key things to consider when keeping sheep

Six key things to consider when keeping sheep

Farming and agriculture

Are you planning to keep sheep on a smallholding or farm in the West Country? If so, there’s a few things to consider when it comes to buying land suitable for your woolly friends….


Whether you plan to keep sheep for lamb meat, wool for weaving or to show at local and even national events, knowing the reason and purpose for keeping sheep is essential when it comes to buying the right smallholding or farm.

It’ll determine the amount of land you require along with any sheds and space for additional equipment or housing. Planning on selling your own meat onsite? You’ll also need to consider extra buildings, facilities and public access for a farm shop and of course, in terms of locality, where nearby butchers are based to keep those food miles down.


One of the biggest factors to consider when buying a farm or smallholding is where to keep the sheep during winter months or extreme weather conditions?

A smallholding or farm with sheds will be a huge advantage, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here; is there land or potential planning permission to develop the land you’re buying? If it’s not already in place what are the chances of getting it, and how much will it cost to develop?

NB: The amount of space needed depends on the type and size of your sheep; latest Government requirements can be found here:

Type of land

The type of land you purchase will have an impact on the sort of stock you’ll be able to keep, and visa versa. Whilst some hardy sheep will be happy to graze on the hills of Dartmoor and Exmoor, others will be better suited to flatter, more sheltered pastures.

You’ve already got an idea of what you’re going to be using the sheep for, make sure that your selection of breed and land allow you to maximising your chances of success.

Pasture size

You know the breed, what you’ll be using them for and what sort of land they’ll be located on, so exactly how much of that land do you need?

This will be linked to your commercial goals; are you looking to hobby farm with just a few sheep giving you a residual income, or to develop into something more intensive and commercial in both size and nature?

The National Sheep Association gives a guideline of approximately six to ten sheep per acre, depending on climate, topography and grass quality.

Soil type

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of buying a farm or smallholding with the perfect soil. Different types of soil all have varying properties, which can affect crop yields, water drainage and nutrients.

The South West is predominately made up of wet clay loam, which is rich in nutrients and can be managed by drainage techniques, subsoiling and rotation, helping to reduce build-up of clay under foot.

There’s plenty of thriving farms and smallholdings of all sizes in the region, so you can be sure we’ve got the soil to support your dream!

The future

A common point from us; whenever you’re looking to buy a farm or smallholding, always consider your future aspirations. Do you see yourself owning a flock of thousands, or so few that they have names? There needs to be growth in your West Country Dream when you want it. Buying a property and land will ensure you’re not moving your dream down the road in just a few years time.

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Top five myths about buying a farm

Top five myths about buying a farm

Farming and agriculture

Farming is at the heart of the West Country and the region is home to more livestock than any other area in the UK.

Living on a farm allows you to live a potentially healthier lifestyle; for those of you who are yet to live and breath the rural lifestyle, we take a look at the top five myths and misconceptions when it comes to buying your own farm.

You have to be from a farming background

Do you really need to be from a farming background to set up a farm?

Having agricultural experience certainly helps, but some of the country’s most successful farmers started out with little or no practical knowledge.

Jim Doherty, known from the BBC series ‘Jimmy’s Farm’, is one of many examples that you don’t need experience to succeed. Jim’s farming career began in 2002 when he established a rare pig breed farm in Kent. For a number of years his progress was followed by the BBC and, today, Jimmy’s Farm has an award-winning restaurant, butterfly house and hosts food festivals throughout the year.

His pigs don’t fly but we think that’s definite proof that you don’t need agricultural experience to buy a farm!

It’s all mud, sweat and tears

Farming is often portrayed to be a backbreaking industry, with little reward. However, the benefits can be huge; latest statistics show the total UK earnings from farming is around £5.3 billion a year!

According to Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) more than 300,000 are employed by the agriculture sector in England and 62,000 of the total workforce are in South West. If you’re looking for a career in agriculture there are plenty of viable options available to you.

You have to go big to succeed

Buying a large acreage farm doesn’t guarantee your it’s going to be successful.

Some of the most profitable businesses have developed from smallholdings by diversifying into tourism and farm shops.

For example Hallwood Farm Shop based near Petrockstowe is an award winning shop and grows the majority of its vegetables on the farm.
Meanwhile Parkside Farm in Middlesex transformed its mixed dairy and arable farm into one of the UK’s best pick your own businesses and this year went on to become Retail Champion of the Year in the national FARMA awards.

Proof that you don’t need to buy big to become successful!

We can help you find the perfect farm to suit your needs, take a look at services here…

It’s bank breaking

Farming can often be misconceived to be ‘bank breaking’, but if you’re looking at taking your first step in the industry, you’ll be pleased to know that land prices remain stable.

If you’re considering a move from the city to the West Country, you’ll be able to get more for your money. Figures show the average semi-detached property in London is fetching more than £500,000; this will go a long way towards your first farm!

It’s a dwindling industry

Farming in the West Country is far from in decline. Alongside tourism, agriculture plays a crucial role in the West Country’s economy, directly contributing more than £1.6 billion a year.

Since 2009 the farming industry has contributed £10 billion to the UK’s economy, which is an increase of £3.1 billion (about 45 per cent) over five years.

Meanwhile, sales of organic farm produce rose by 4% last year so if you’re hoping to grow and sell your own products, now is the time to start!

West Country Dream helps people looking to buy farms and smallholdings achieve their West Country Dream. For more information on how we can help your move become a reality please give Helen a call on 07816 514667.

Top five reasons for living on a farm

Top five reasons for living on a farm

Farming and agriculture

As a child one of the best places to grow up is on a farm in the West Country, where space is aplenty to roam the rolling fields for hours on end. However, as an adult with a family, buying a farm can seem like a daunting prospect with a big commitment, particularly if you’re moving from a great distance away.

Although undoubtedly a big move, the benefits of living on a farm should far outweigh any concerns you have. We’ve taken a look at just five of the many benefits that come with living on a farm or smallholding.

Healthier lifestyle

If you’re looking for a healthier lifestyle, look no further! Government statistics show people live longer in the countryside compared to cities, with Devon having some of the lowest premature mortality rates in the UK.

The South West also has some of the lowest levels of air pollution in the UK; on average London is four times higher than the South West’s regional capital Exeter.

Take a deep breath of that fresh countryside air!

You can be your own boss

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, but don’t want to compromise your senior job position?

Running your own farm in the West Country means you can have the best of best of both worlds; you can break free from city chaos and be your own boss, meanwhile cut out the commute.

Relocating with young children? Managing a farm allows you to arrange your workload around family commitments ensuring no one misses out!

Room for everyone

Figures show in the last year the average price for a semi-detached property in London fetched more than £500,000; making it the most expensive place to live in the UK!

Want somewhere with more space for your growing family? Look no further than a farm or smallholding in the West Country; you can exchange your £500,000 modest family home in the city for a five-bedroom bungalow with 18 acres of land!

Take a look at some of the properties on our website and get a flavour for what could become your own West Country Dream:


By owning a farm in the West Country, the opportunities for business development are endless. Figures show around half of all UK farms use diversification in some form, contributing an extra £10,400 a year to their income.

If you’re not ready to plunge into the agricultural trade, there are a number other options you can consider…

• Diversifying into tourism by converting redundant barns to holiday lets
• Retail e.g. setting up a farm shop using local produce
• Catering; do you have skills in the hospitality sector? Combine them by setting up a café or B&B

Grow your own food

More and more people are becoming aware of where their food comes from and what’s in it. According to the Soil Association, sales of organic products rose by 4% last year, despite food prices falling by 1.95%.

One of the biggest benefits of having your own smallholding or farm, is the opportunity to grow your own food, and selling it to those around you! You know exactly what’s been used in the products you’re eating and it’s great educational fun for children too!

Looking at moving to Devon or Cornwall, to buy a farm or property with land, get in touch with West Country Dream, on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.

Top 10 things to consider when relocating to Devon or Cornwall

Top 10 things to consider when relocating to Devon or Cornwall

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture West Country Life

What exactly is it you’re looking for?

It seems like an obvious and simple place to start; if you’re looking to move to the West Country, do you know exactly what it is you’re looking for?

This is sometimes a question you may already know the answer to.  For example, you need a four-bedroom house, something with a little land and open space for the kids, something that’s rural, but still has local amenities and facilities on your doorstep.

Write down your list of requirements, and make sure you know which are your priorities.

Rural or Community Based?

If you’re currently living in an urban or city area, do you know how rural you want to go? Whilst the peace and quiet of an isolated farmhouse may seem like bliss to many, will you miss the convenience and company of the urban scene?

How much land?

The amount of land you need can have a real impact on cost and is therefore a vital consideration.

Have you given thought as to what you’re looking to achieve from your land, the scale on which you’re looking to do that, and also whether you currently have the knowledge to implement your ideas?

Local Schools?

A large number of families move to the West Country each and every year.  A key decision for every family to make and research is the quality of local schools.  Whilst 85% of schools in Devon are considered to be ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED, you’ll want to find the right fit for your children, as well as working out the school run on those rural roads!

Things to see and do in the local area

What do you do in your spare time? Where do you take the children during school holidays? Every area of Devon and Cornwall has something very different to offer; are you keen hikers or more likely to be found in the sea enjoying the surf whenever you can?

Whichever you are, always remember that your home is the property you’re buying, and also the lifestyle and everything that comes with and around it.

Road links to your potential home

The school run, the local amenities and places you’ll find; local roads impact them all.  Always take a look at local road systems; are you going to be spending your time on a dual carriageway, or on windy country lanes? What impact does this have on your lifestyle and your ease of getting to where you need or want to be?

Is the property value for money?

Property markets vary in every region of the UK; In Devon £1m will get you a four bedroom period property with five holiday cottages, and 4.5 acres of land.

The same money in London will get you a two bedroom apartment a stones throw away from Battersea Power Station.

Knowing and understanding the local market is essential in making sure you know how far your money goes, and whether you can be extending that list of priorities we mentioned at the start of this post, or pruning them!

Researching the local area

There’s an old adage that before you buy a property you should visit it a few times on different days and at different times, maybe even in different weathers, to get a true feel for all of the factors you should be considering.

If you live a long way from the potential property, how are you going to do this? How are you intending on finding out about any niggling problems that may exist?

How will you find time to manage the process?

How do you fit this in with the day job? Can you fit this into the day job?

If not, this leads us nicely onto our final point….

Do you need help?

Most of the points above come down to research, and simply knowing the lay of the local land.  This is where we aim to help those relocating.  We have the knowledge of the local area, we understand agriculture, and we’ve also done it ourselves.  We’re here to help you make sure that your dream move becomes a reality.

Why buy a smallholding in Devon?

Why buy a smallholding in Devon?

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture West Country Life West Country Properties

With more and more people looking to move to the South West of England and enjoy all of the benefits of the rural lifestyle, we take a look at why people are taking the plunge and buying a smallholding or farm, and really living the West Country Dream!

Key Facts about where we live:

  • 18% (some 9.3 million people) now live in areas of the UK officially classified as rural.
  • More than half of those living in a rural area are over 45 years old.
  • Property prices are on the up in the South West, having risen by a reported 5% in the past year.

What you get when you get here:

  • Beautiful Coastlines; 450 miles of coastline to be precise!
  • A healthy lifestyle; 81% of people in Devon are classified as being in very good or good health.
  • Quality schools; 85% of schools in Devon are rated as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED.

A recent survey conducted by Country Life Magazine ranked Devon as the best place to live in the entire UK.  With more than 22,000 people moving to rural areas of the UK each and every year it appears plenty of us agree with their findings!

What can you get for your money?

We’ve taken a look at just how far £1,000,000 will get you in the South West of England and compared it to the London property market.  You may be surprised at the difference between the two; the South West looks like great value!

What you get for £1m in London

  • 2 bedroom apartment
  • 660sq.ft of internal floor space
  • A stones throw from Battersea Power Station

What you get for £1m in Devon

  • 4 bedroom Grade II Listed 16th Century Property
  • 5 holiday cottages
  • 4.5 acres of land

For more information on how West Country Dream can help you realise your dream of moving to a smallholding, farm or property with land in the South West of England please take a look around our site or call Helen Garrett on 07816 514667.

West Country Dream helps those seeking rural life

West Country Dream helps those seeking rural life

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture West Country Life West Country Properties

A husband and wife team are using their extensive knowledge of agriculture to provide those looking for their own slice of the West Country dream a unique opportunity to see exactly what they’ll be getting.

West Country Dream, set up by Helen and Murray Garrett, brings together a unique combination of a farm, self-catering cottage and a number of agricultural courses for those considering moving to the region in the hunt for the good life.

Helen explained, “Around 10 years ago we took the decision to relocate to the South West from our farm in the Home Counties. This process took over a year to complete, involved hundreds of miles of travelling as well as a number of logistical hurdles and headaches. We know that many people look to move to the South West, whether they are already in agriculture or looking to purchase their first smallholding, and we wanted to make this process easier and simpler for them to achieve.”

The business offers a complete property search and selection service, calling upon their own farming experience in identifying the best-suited smallholdings and property with land on the market.

Helen continued, “There are three things we want to help reduce for those looking to relocate; mileage, time and stress. By ensuring we’ve already seen the properties before our clients’ visit we can make sure that they’ll only view ones that could be the perfect home.”

Those on the hunt for rural property with West Country Dream won’t be left in the local hotel; the business has a self-catering holiday cottage on their farm and encourages those looking to test the water to enjoy one of their taster packages.

“We realise that not everyone looking to find a smallholding in the South West will already have farming knowledge. With the holiday cottage on site and Murray’s experience as a qualified agricultural lecturer we thought it was the ideal opportunity to give people the chance to get involved with farming life and learn at the same time.”

For more information about West Country Dream please call Helen Garrett on 07816 514667

Top tips to consider before relocating to the South West

Top tips to consider before relocating to the South West

Buying property with land Farming and agriculture West Country Life

So many people often dream about relocating to the West Country, but when considering a relocation of this type there’s a huge amount of research required to ensure you find your perfect new home.  Location surely has to be the top criteria for research so here are a few tips on what to consider when seriously contemplating a move.

Community or rural

So you’re looking for a rural retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of City life and surrounded by lots of open space and fresh air…

This is a really serious point to consider – rural in the South West can mean long journeys down single track roads with a few bleating sheep as neighbours – heaven for a week’s holiday perhaps, but make sure that it really is your dream


Driving in the West Country is very different to a trip around the M25.  Be prepared for single track roads, mud, cows, an infuriating lack of signposts and the ultimate challenge for Satnavs, but in return you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the most fantastic views for miles and miles and certainly a lot less traffic!


Devon itself is a huge area – understand which parts you like and why? If you’re unsure do your research and get advice – towns, fishing villages, seaside resorts can all be beautiful on a glorious summers day  – but what’s the reality in winter?

There are plenty of organisations like; ourselves, local councils and town and tourism websites who all provide great resources for anyone looking to move to the area.

For more information about moving to Devon or Cornwall please give Helen a call on 07816 514667 or visit our contact page.