Careering round the countryside
Published: 09 Dec 2015
Name: Duncan Barrie
Job title: Farm valuer
Company: CKD Galbraith
For an outdoor lover the idea of an office-based 9-to-5 job was never on my radar. I got my head down and passed exams to become MRICS and jumped at the chance of being a farm valuer which suits me perfectly. I spend most of my time out and about with no two days ever the same.
A typical day usually starts with a quick early morning check of my emails from home, then I might be off to catch a ferry or perhaps take a four hour drive to Argyll or the north of Scotland which gives me plenty time to catch up with phone calls to the office or with clients on the way to a first site inspection or farm visit of the day.
Office-based days usually mean valuation reports which are often prepared for banks for debt or funding assessment, for the assessment of asset values to be presented to a court in a divorce case, an executory requiring a date of a death, or as is often the case, a client just wanting to know what their farm or property is worth.
The reports involve a fair amount of research and include preparing plan, collating background and comparable sale information. Communicating with other valuers and members of the CKD Galbraith team is a daily essential whether by phone or popping in to one of our 11 offices across the country when I am passing. There’s an incredible wealth of knowledge within the firm and the intelligence we share at both a local and national level is an invaluable resource.
I’m out of the office more than I am in, usually meeting with a new client to inspect their property, compiling notes and generally collating as much data as possible to help me write the report when I get back to the office.
This is a part of the job I relish and it’s why I do what I do. I really enjoy meeting the owners or occupiers of farms, having a chat over a quick cup of tea – whether it’s about the weather or the current price of commodities; It’s helpful to have family who have interests in dairy, arable and beef along with other sectors of the farming industry to boot, so it’s always interesting to hear what my clients’ views are.
Often the weather and the price of inputs and outputs dominate the conversation! After that important cup of tea we usually head outside for a tour of the property.
Lunch is often on the run if I have it at all, but don’t feel too sorry for me as I can sometimes be outside on a beautiful sunny day munching a sandwich on a hillside or parked at the end of a barley field watching the combines roll by or if I happen to be in the office when my dad or brother are selling cattle at the mart, I pop down to have a catch up with them and if I’m really lucky and time it right, they’ll take me for lunch in the canteen!.
Sometimes lunch can appear from unexpected sources like the time I had the misfortune of getting stuck in a field gate after the client asked me to drive into his field in order to show me his prize bull. Luckily there was no damage and he did give me lunch afterwards.
I now have a 10-month-old Cocker Spaniel pup called Connie so I try to build in a “daft half hour” around midday before putting her back in the car and heading off to the next appointment. I didn’t think I would ever conform to the land agent image of having a dog, but I wouldn’t be parted with her now!
Afternoons can be much the same as mornings with a wide range of tasks to complete in order to produce the valuation reports. The people I meet and work for range from estate owners, farmers, bankers, lawyers, accountants, government officials, residential owners, equestrian and other businesses, and other land agency industry colleagues; the list is endless and each day is different from the next.
My property valuations vary hugely ranging from a small holding in Argyll to 1,000 acres of prime arable land in Berwickshire, and everything in between. Deadlines on valuation reports can be quite tight and even once the report has been issued they require an element of follow up work.
I live in Perthshire and my work can take me anywhere from the tip of northern Aberdeenshire to Stranraer so my day rarely ends before about 6.30 – I don’t mind working late as I didn’t sign up for a 9-to-5 job preferring to fit in with clients when they are free to meet up and if that’s not until later in the evening then that’s fine with me. As a firm we are very active on social media so more often than not I have a quick catch up on social feeds and emails again after supper so everything outstanding is cleared by the end of the day – that’s the luxury of mobile communications.
In my spare time, if the weather is nice, I enjoy going for a run or going out on the bike, or a walk with the pup and Mrs B. I still play the odd game of rugby, although I’m not a frequent attendee at training during the week so I try to do other things to keep fit instead. My wife and I have family and friends scattered across the country so I often end up doing as much travelling at the weekends to visit them as I do during the week.
Having been brought up on the family farm I love being outdoors and I’m passionate about the agricultural and rural community as a whole. With my naturally inquisitive nature I enjoy the opportunities my job offers, meeting new folk, new properties and visiting new parts of the country. Being a rural valuer suits me well and how lucky am I to be paid to do a job I thoroughly enjoy?