Rural Land Market Data Report: Analysis of land sales data and proposals for improving future reporting of land market transactions A report to the Scottish Land Commission

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This presents the findings of the second stage of a two-stage research project commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission, on improving reporting of land market transactions in Scotland. The first stage report aimed to identify current trends within Scotland’s rural land market to provide an up-to-date picture of buyer and seller motivations, with a specific focus on understanding how increased demand for natural capital investment is driving activity in the land market. The second phase of work set out in this report, undertook data collation on land sales from Registers of Scotland and incorporated supplementary data from Strutt and Parker, to develop a quantitative assessment of land market activity and land values in Scotland (for Scottish farmland, forestry and estates markets) for the 2020-2021 period. Additionally, this Phase 2 report identifies challenges for longer term land market assessment and sets out options for future collation of quantitative and qualitative data and reporting on land market activity.
The methodology used in this report incorporated three main components: i) collation and analysis of Registers of Scotland land values data; ii) consultation with land agents to obtain additional data on land sales/acquisitions; and iii) data synthesis and developing proposals for a long-term approach to assessing rural land market activity. The final analysis was based primarily on collation and analysis of data from Registers of Scotland and data provided by our project partners Strutt and Parker. The collation of data on land sales from individual land agencies in Scotland was largely unsuccessful, due primarily to agent concerns around client confidentiality, the perceived commercial value of land sales data and the commercial sensitivity of pricing information, particularly for off-market sales. The final approach developed here has been designed to be repeated or adapted for future land market assessments, to facilitate increased transparency in the rural land market and identify longer term trends in market activity and key drivers for land sales and acquisitions.
Data collated from Registers of Scotland (RoS) was reduced and focused by excluding registration information and related cadastral (title) parcels information below 25 hectares and not in rural areas and selecting specific data categories within the Registers of Scotland dataset for further interrogation (including the forestry, land and agriculture classifications). All collated RoS data was cross-checked against two additional databases provided by Strutt and Parker on estate sales and farm sales in 2020 and 2021, with the final analysis related primarily to sales which were identifiable within the Registers of Scotland data with the exception of the estates dataset, which used a hybrid approach to incorporate some area and sales price data from the Strutt and Parker estates data.
This combined data collation and reduction process resulted in final datasets being created for farmland, forestry and estate sales in Scotland, which included a minority of listings (unknowns) where area was not identifiable but where a consideration (sale price) was shown in the RoS data.
There are several important caveats and related challenges to undertaking market assessments based on RoS data and/or merging RoS data with land sales information from other sources. Key specific caveats include: i) the difference in timescales between completion of registrations and land sales actually occurring, which can result in a RoS based analysis excluding more recent sales due to pending registrations; ii) the difficulty in assigning area (hectarage) to all land sales due to delays in cadastral parcel mapping which has resulted in some recoded registrations being excluded from any area based analysis; iii) and a lack of specific additional data relating to forest/farm type and buyer type and missing sales price information in some cases which has resulted in the 2021 estates market assessment in particular, being a considerable underestimate in terms of total market value and average estate price
Original languageEnglish
PublisherScottish Land Commission
Commissioning bodyScottish Land Commission
Number of pages41
Publication statusFirst published - 13 May 2022


  • land values
  • scotland
  • inflation
  • motivation
  • agricultural land
  • forestry land
  • sporting estates
  • ecosystem services
  • peatland restoration
  • Sequestration

Rural Policy Centre Themes

  • Land use and land reform


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