A reinterpretation of the value attributes of agricultural land for the valuation of farms bought for lifestyle purposes
Traditionally, agricultural land was regarded mainly as a production factor. Accordingly, in their application of the market sales comparison approach to agricultural land, valuers relied on a set of attributes related to agricultural production as the primary determinants of an agricultural property’s highest and best use (HBU) and market value. These characteristics were measurable and related to the property’s income-generating capacity. The emergence of a multi-functional rural land market with alternative uses of agricultural land, such as for lifestyle purposes, has transformed this concept. Lifestyle inspired buyers often focus on a wider range of attributes not necessarily related to income, but associated more with satisfaction derived from the property. This creates a measurement problem for agricultural land valuers, as the characteristics valued by lifestyle buyers are more intangible and subjective, which leave valuers without a base from which to value such properties. The presence of lifestyle inspired buyers makes agricultural land valuations more demanding as it implies different interpretations of the same farm and complicates the choice of a single HBU. The continued use of familiar conventional farming attributes by valuers when valuing farms where lifestyle motivations are present, and the omission of less measurable characteristics, implies that the market sales comparison method cannot be executed accurately. The objectives of the study were twofold: to reveal the dominance of value attributes applicable to farming as HBU when valuing farms bought primarily for lifestyle purposes and to identify the characteristics of land important to lifestyle inspired farm buyers.