The Legal Groundwork essential for reaping a smooth sale, writes James Cornforth a member of Crombie Wilkinson's Commercial Property team

For a farmer, the selling of a farm or a large plot of land is an important event Often a farmer’s largest asset and one filled with emotion. The average turnover of farmland in the UK is estimated to be two hundred years and, therefore, these plots have often been in the family for generations. It is, therefore, important for the seller to obtain the best possible price for the land which they and their family members have put so much into.

The market for agricultural land remains strong as demand continues to outstrip supply and, therefore, this could be a good year for anyone seeking to obtain the best price for their land. To ensure success it is important to rely on the expertise of professionals you can trust who are practiced in the process of selling land on a regular basis.

The agricultural team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors have such expertise and will work hard to ensure the conveyancing process runs smoothly. However, issues often arise disrupting the conveyancing resulting in a delayed completion of the sale and more costs.

Issues such as farmland not being registered with the Land Registry, Historical covenants and rights of way arising upon closer inspection of title deeds, planning permissions becoming known, the possibility of chancel repair liability, undocumented occupancies of the land and more besides occur regularly in the process of the sale. All result in more legal work and if unexpected will increase the chances of a delay.

Cash buyers are known for wanting to do business without delay and can withdraw from transactions which have become prolonged. Therefore, to ensure the best buyer remains interested in your property it is ideal to investigate and remove these issues before the property is placed onto the market. The larger the plot for sale and greater the length of time it has been since it was last sold the more important it will be to iron out any legal issues before it is advertised.

The ironing process is best done by construction of a sale contract pack. Such a pack will include proof of title, replies to the industry standard agricultural enquiries which a buyer’s solicitor will enquire for, draft contract and transfer papers for the buyer’s solicitor to review, and ideally local authority, environmental and other required searches which often take weeks to complete. Building such a contract pack should bring to attention any issues which need resolving and inevitably the legal fees will be lower with only one party involved as the need to update multiple parties’ solicitors is often a contributing factor in escalating legal fees.

The short-term cost of legal expenses will reap benefits in the longer term and ensure a smoother sale for all parties. If you wish to ensure your property is market ready our agricultural team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors will be happy to assist you, we have years of experience dealing with agricultural matters. As an NFU panel firm we offer a 12.5% discount to NFU members and, therefore, well placed to offer excellent value to farmers.