That represents an increase of 6.9 per cent, according to the Fleurets Survey of Pub Prices report, which also shows great regional variation in prices and sales.

The report divides the freehold market into higher quality operational pubs and bottom end pubs without permanent owners which may also be closed.

The average sale price for a higher quality freehold freehouse is now £675,964.

This represents a decrease of 5 per cent overall in 2018, but reflects there were more of these types of pub sales in the north and fewer in the south, rather than an inherent value change, says the report.

 

Fleurets Avarage sale Prices of All Freehold graph

 

In fact, regional differences show higher quality freeholds in the north jumped 40 per cent, driven by a 20 per cent increase in Fair Maintainable Trade (FMT).

In the South prices for this sort of pub dropped 5 per cent as fewer deals took place in London, according to the report.

Excluding London, southern regions all experienced a 5 to 10 per cent rise in average sales price (with average FMT levels up 20 per cent).

In the East, higher end freeholds experienced a 60 per cent jump in prices, helped by a 27 per cent increase in average FMT; while in the west prices were up 5 to 10 per cent, benefitting from average FMT levels increasing by 20 per cent.

 

Bottom end

At the bottom end of the freehouse market, the average sale price of a freehold was up 1.9 per cent last year, "partly as a result of a marginal increase in FMT of 0.7 per cent."

The volume of bottom end sales decreased 19 per cent (down 7 per cent in the north and 37 per cent in the south) during the same period as, "many pubcos retained and invested in underperforming assets, rather than sell them," claims Fleurets.

"In addition, administration sales of individual freehold pubs remained low as trade levels held up and debt holders continued to support operators. This would also suggest we are nearing the end of the big pubco's disposals programmes."

 

Wider market

Prices on the leasehold sector, meanwhile, dropped 27 per cent, according to the report with an average sales price in the north of £32,783 and £40,481 in the south.

The report also suggests there is high demand for "high quality sites suitable for managed operations" (these are typically sites that take over £12,000 pw for wet-led and over £20k pw for food-led units).

There is strong demand from all types of buyers for city centre sites, including bottom end freehold pubs, which are affordable to individual operators and local developers, and nil premium free of tie leaseholds where very little cash is needed.

The report states: "Enthusiastic operators can secure what is often a fitted unit with an opportunity to trade.

"Increasing costs and falling consumer confidence are focussing attention on bottom line profits. This is also encouraging a trend towards smaller wet only concept bars with fundamentally lower overheads."

There is less demand in the current climate for mid-sized, owner-operated businesses and leasehold assignments at a premium.