How To Conduct Market Research When Looking To Rent A Smallholding?

Opportunities to rent a smallholding are indeed a niche interest – but by no means should they be hard to find…


Renting a smallholding might be just the transition you are looking for.

But the question remains…where should you begin?

Like with anything niche, having the advantage of a well informed head-start can make all the difference.

Smallholdings are a very distinct rental prospect in contrast to residential properties for the reason of function.

By nature they offer the benefit of agricultural practice alongside the benefit of accommodation.

Smallholdings come with:

  • housing,
  • land,
  • diversity of buildings…& sometimes…
  • crops,
  • livestock,
  • equipment etc.

Whilst these practical features don’t always have to be utilised by the tenant.

The presence of them provide functional advantage to be leveraged, should you have a plan of what to do with them.

Knowing what to do with a smallholding is no longer strictly a fruit of heritage.

You will have seen on many popular media & news outlets that smallholdings are attracting growing numbers of unorthodox beginners.

The city is rapidly losing scores of its professionals to the allure of the simple countryside life.

According to Hamptons International…

“…almost 94,500 people made the move out of cities to the countryside over the past 12 months.” 2016-2017

With the trend generally including 30’s – 40’s mainly, most recently there are increasing number of 20-somethings taking flight for the greenbelt.

Many are buying, but also significant numbers are renting.

Renting offers the benefits of occupancy, without you carrying the personal liability of long term financing.

Typically people making the leap, seek the following from renting a smallholding:

  • outdoors lifestyle
  • trying your hand at farming
  • living off the land
  • making a profit
  • going off grid
  • giving a large family a gainful occupation

Looking to rent a smallholding?

We’ve put the following pointers together to help you make the most of your search.

Establish your purpose

Lifestyle vs. business.

What is your motivator for looking to become a smallholding tenant.

Again, with the added utility of a functional agricultural space, how much are you looking to make it work for you?

Establishing this expectation from the outset will inform your further involved decision making.

This leading principle and motivator for your smallholding rental interest is the underlying driver.

It directs your efforts and therefore as to avoid disappointment, be clear about why you want to go down this road.

Buying a business asset vs. buying a lifestyle accessory demands a very different disciple of scrutiny.

Buying a business carries risks that a lifestyle purchase just doesn’t carry.

The nature of commercial investment is at complete odds with a consumer purchase.

An investment is placed by an investor with the expectation that the original sum plus increase will be returned at a defined interval in the future.

A consumer purchase should simply fulfil the personal needs of the purchaser. Nothing more.

No expectation of return exists beyond simply fulfilling the need with a lifestyle choice.

When planning to rent a smallholding for business purposes, much like with buying, you must make added calculation for measuring the potential risk of investment failure.

In this way you attempt to prevent the prospect of making a loss on your rental arrangement, by exercising prudence.

Looking ahead an thinking it through before deciding.

What to look for in an opportunity when considering renting?

Every smallholding property has attributes. These are levers for helping you get to you goal.

For the smallholding business investor, these smallholding attributes will inform of it’s ability to afford ideal conditions for operation, to generate sales revenue and profit making.

Every smallholding ought to be sustainable

Even if your plan for renting a smallholding is to be a lifestyle choice, your smallholding still ought to be sustainable.

This simply means you’ve still got to be able to keep up with your rental obligations, regardless of your endeavours turning a profit.

Without a means of upkeep, a smallholding, even if rented, can quickly become a liability.

You’ll want to make sure before making a commitment that you will be able to maintain the deal.

Either by your personal income from elsewhere e.g. a contracted salary, or indeed from smallholding businesses or farming income.

Make a plan

In order to ensure you have a good chance of fulfilling your eventual rental obligations, you’ll need a plan.

Regardless of your purpose for renting – i.e. business or lifestyle – you’ll still need a feasibility plan.

Furthermore, should you intend to run a profitable agricultural business from your smallholding, you’ll need to write a business plan.

This plan is much.much more than a secretarial formality.

It is a step-by-step roadmap for practically achieving your goal.

It’s worth writing from the point of view of being sure about your decision..

facts and figures, assumptions, constraints, limitations, features, factors and projections all have their part to play in approving or else pushing back rental business.

This plan is also worth distributing among those you can trust to give you an honest opinion.

They might just shed light on aspect of your plan which warrants additional attention.

Necessary skills and qualities

If your plan is to run your smallholding as a functional agricultural operation, you’ll need to factor in the skillsets required to run the enterprise.

Operational skills, administrative skills, business skills, leadership qualities etc. are all prerequisites to making a success of your plan.

Some are obviously more mission critical than others, but you’ll want to be competent enough at the start to get going from scratch.

Factor-in upskilling if you are deficient in any area.

Find a relevant course or workshop. If necessary get formally qualified and certified.

Google search

It sounds simple, but there a right way and a wrong way around this.

To begin with start broad.

Get scoping the breadth of resources available to your fingertips via Google which might provide give you with ample leads for your ideal smallholding.

Narrow down.

Learn the advantage of Google Search Operators….

Use Google search operators to pull up from Googles immense database of content the most useful pages.

What is a Google search operator? And how could it help you find a suitable smallholding property?

Very simple.

Unbeknown to many, Google is a very complicated and highly flexible search software which does a lot more than what the majority of searchers use it for.

Let’s take the example of searching for ‘smallholding for rent‘…

You might just consider typing in…well…’smallholdings for rent’

When we scan through the top ten search results we find the following:

  • 2 online classified advertisers: NowNow & Preloved
  • 3 leading online property marketplaces: Mitula, On The Market, Estates Gazette
  • 3 independent online listings publishers
  • 1 corporate estate agents listings aggregator
  • 1 not for profit organisation / landlord: National Trust.

6 out of 10 results on the 1st page of Google are estate agents opportunities.

3 out of 10 are 3rd party listings publishers showcasing direct landlords offers.

1 out of 10 is from a landlord owned website.

Want to improve your chances of finding more independently advertised offers?

Let’s try a Google operator or two:

The exclude operator

(1) exclude: a feature of Google search which allows you to prune the results you see in order to customise your view.

The include operator

(2) include: a feature of Google search which allows you to compile search results only which include the highlighted word or phrase

  • Example…
    • say you wanted to include searched pages for ‘smallholding to rent’ which included the phrase “…let my smallholding…” in an attempt to find direct contacts of landlords

Forums and Social

Places where people (…not necessarily companies) talk online are usually a good source of candid advice.

On forums, you often get real questions being asked by people who are in very similar if not identical circumstances to yours and are looking for help, support &/or answers.

Often respondents leave very detailed messages to topical queries, revealing valuable lessons learned from their experience.

Filter through online smallholdings forum pages for threads, within which contributors talk shop on finding rental opportunities.

Inbound

Begin filling up your inbox with relevant alerts and listings of smallholding to rent.

Leverage off the curation expertise of other online platforms and receive a routine digest of the latest rental opportunities.

Start with Google Alerts

Simply register (you don’t need to set-up a Google account if you don’t have one) by inputting your chosen search term.

Skim through the list of latest web pages (known to Google search engine) which feature your search query.

Click on the most relevant page links and bookmark the most helpful efforts.

Sign up to specialist online curation services

There are many online service websites which are able to help put you in direct contact with vendors of niche rental opportunities.

Sign up to a few services by email alert.

Use their virtual leg power to get around the web and build a useful cherry-picked list of rental opportunities.

The round-up…

Approach research with a diverse attitude – cover many bases, starting broad, then narrowing down.

Prioritise quality over quantity, but don’t use prejudice or exclude ideas in the first instance.

Mix up both inbound and outbound methods for the most moderate balance.

Reach out and get social and you’ll often find results coming from the most unlikely avenues.

Surprise yourself and get active today in searching for your new smallholding to rent.

Are you a smallholding tenant? Have you previously rented?

Leave a comment below and help your fellow readers with some sound advice. Start the conversation.

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