In the current climate, it is surprising to see more portals entering the market, but could the answer perhaps lie in niche portals? Not quite vertical search, but the new uklandandfarms web site is already reporting 141 agents on the books and traffic of 2,000 uniques per day.
Run by Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (AMC) (part of the Lloyds TSB group) uklandandfarms is a portal for nationwide land search for anyone wanting to find and buy farmland and rural business property in the UK.
Apparently, there is an unprecedented demand for agricultural land and uklandandfarms (uklaf as they like to call it) say they will only list properties with three acres of more.
Jim Bryant, head of Rural Agency at Bidwells, said: "UKLAF provides a new and exciting way for potential buyers to search for rural, equestrian property and farmland. There are other established portals out there but AMC’s strong association with land agents make it uniquely placed to develop what will be a fantastic tool as a nationwide dedicated property portal just for the rural sector. We think it is just what is needed in the market place and so look forward to sharing in that future success."
The rising demand is apparently being fuelled by the rising commodity prices. Indeed, not a week passes without chefs and restaurants moaning that the price of wheat has gone up so you now have to be £30 for your steak (not sure about the link), but as a result land is now in demand and commanding higher prices. Milk has also risen by 40% I am reliably informed.
Niche markets are just that of course and one wonders how the model will develop. It would appear they charge the land agent (no costs on the site) and with growing traffic they ought to generate a steady revenue from advertising. Becoming the number one vertical/niche for land will lead to more and it is no surprise to see a bank behind it, but there is, one imagines, only so much land. There may of course be cynics out there that see the banks as simply tapping into the next market now that they have well and truly crippled the residential markets. If that is true I am off to get a huge mortgage for a chunk of land I can’t afford. On to the next bubble !