Forum highlights long-term foot-and-mouth effects
The full impact of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak has yet to be felt on the property market, but its effects could stretch well into next year and possibly beyond.
According to many licensed property specialists in the West Country, the foot-and-mouth crisis is "still in its infancy" and, with fears that Devon could become a new "hotspot" for the disease, it looks as though this could be true.
At a forum in Exeter for West Country agents, hosted by The Publican Newspaper, Barney Bettesworth, from Bettesworth, spoke of his misgivings about the effect the disease could have on the licensed property market.
"I don't think we'll see any effect on sales until later in the year because the crisis is still in its infancy," he said.
Pub sales have not been affected too badly by foot-and-mouth disease so far this year but the agents agreed that the numbers of people travelling to the West Country for viewings has declined, which will have an effect in future months.
People from the Home Counties who traditionally travel to Cornwall, Somerset and Devon to view pubs hoping to escape from city life, have been putting their plans on hold because they are reluctant to travel to places where the disease is rife.
Devon was one of the worst-affected counties for foot-and-mouth but has recently had only a few new cases. However a new "hotspot" of the disease, centred around Tiverton in Devon, has renewed fears that the crisis is far from over.
"The disease is not over and its effects are not yet felt," Mr Bettesworth said. "People might think they won't buy a pub on Dartmoor because foot-and-mouth might happen again."
However, John Kinsey from Chesterton said it was important to remember the areas affected by the disease were small and some parts of the West Country, especially coastal resorts, were benefiting.
"The press, particularly overseas reporting, has not done us any good. Foreign visitors are almost non-existent," he said.
"But it has been in such a small area and everyone feels the effects differently. In our village pub, the best night was the night we had our first confirmed case because everyone came out to see what was going on."
He admitted it was almost impossible to judge what effect the disease had on the licensed property market until later in the year.
"I think the people most affected are those who bought businesses at the back end of last year thinking they'd have a quiet winter then build it up into the summer - but now it's not happening," he said.
And independent agent James Baker said he thought the effects would be more wide-ranging than simply a reduction in sales.
He said: "Valuation of these sites will be interesting in the future because I've got a feeling it will be like dealing with contaminated land. We'll have to wait and see."