February 18, 2004

Prices of houses in rural Scotland have exploded over the last couple of years, with values in 2003 leaping by 41% according to Scottish estate agents CKD Galbraith. Such is the demand for cottages and family homes in remote areas of the country that property prices have more than doubled the national average increase in house values across all areas of Scotland.

The counties of Perthshire and Ayrshire, both of which lie within comfortable distance from Edinburgh and Glasgow, are the most sought-after location for people wishing to relocate to rural Scotland. The price of a traditional property in Perthshire now stands at an average of £376,800. A house of similar stature in rural Ayrshire will command an average price of £272,000.

The prospect of a change in lifestyle is understood to be the main driving factor fuelling demand for countryside locations. Added to this, remoter areas of Inverness-shire, Sutherland and Ross-shire are becoming increasingly attractive for prospective buyers as more people telework from home.

Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of CKD Galbraith, who compiled the statistics from 171 houses sold in rural areas throughout Scotland in the past 12 months, says: ‘There is an acute shortage of good quality rural property in many areas and with more and more people wishing to move to rural areas for a change in lifestyle, we are going to see continued price rises.

‘Many people now work from home for at least some of the week and are more able to relocate to rural areas where they can enjoy beautiful scenery and a better quality of life.’

Figures from 2003 demonstrate a shrinking demand for rural properties in Scotland from English buyers: in 2002, 40% of rural properties sold by CKD Galbraith went to English buyers, whereas last year that figure stood at 33%. Sutherland proved the most popular county for buyers from south of the border while houses sold in Renfrewshire went mainly to Scottish hands.

‘Many of those looking to buy properties in rural Scotland last year came from the central belt, Edinburgh and Glasgow,’ explains John Bound, partner in CKD Galbraith’s Inverness office. ‘There’s an all round demand for all types of property but what many people are looking for is a traditional house with a pony paddock.

‘While many of period properties have a small garden of about ½ an acre, it’s those which can boast ten or twelve acres that fetch the really good premiums.’

A four-bedroom traditional house with a sizeable plot of land lying about two miles out of a town will set buyers back about £300,000 whereas something of similar size with a smaller parcel of land is likely to cost in the region of £250,000.

‘There’s still a considerable gap between what you can sell a flat in London for and what you can buy up here,’ adds Mr Bound.

As far as predictions for 2004 are concerned, agents hesitate to say. ‘2003 was a big year for escalating house prices in rural Scotland and we’re not predicting that values are going to rise in the same way again this year,’ cautions Mr Bound. ‘It’s still early in the year, however, but I can confirm that interest is already keen.’

Rosebrae – A 5-bedroom house with ½ an acre near Muir of Ord in Ross-shire is on the market for offers over £225,000. Contact CKD Galbraith for details (tel 01463 224 343 or visit www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk