Gerald Fitzgerald, Head of Property Investment and Management at Smiths Gore, said: "The last 18 months have been the most active period for farm rent reviews in over a decade and the Smiths Gore agricultural rent survey shows that rents rose by an average of 25%, with some rising by more than 40.
"This increase in rents was the major contributor to gross income growing by 7.0% across the Index, the highest annual rental growth since 1998; this growth is lower than the increase in agricultural rents as not all farm rents were reviewed and neither were all of the residential, commercial and other tenancies.
"Rural property is often considered a good defensive or counter-cyclical asset to have in a portfolio. The evidence from 2008 and also the previous recession in 1990-1991 supports this. Rural property has weathered the storm better than other property asset classes.
"It was the only property asset which produced a postive total return in 2008 and in the previous recession the only asset class, other than gilts, that produced positive returns.
"We expect total returns to be positive in 2009 and in the medium term but below the 10-year average of 14.3% per annum."
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