Scottish country house agents have had their winter shooting programme seriously disrupted by a most unseasonal burst of activity in the Highland property market. The last quarter of the year is normally a quiet time, says John Bound of C. K. D. Galbraith in Inverness (01463 224343), but his office bucked the trend between October and December 2005, when they agreed sales of 26 properties for a total of £8 million.

These ranged from a two bedroom cottage near Nairn, at £135,000, to the elegant 1920s Cantray House at Croy, nine miles from Inverness (Property Market, August 18, 2005) which sold for about £850,000. ?The summer months were actually pretty quiet, but by October, it seemed that purchasers shrugged off the doom and gloom and just got on with it,? comments Mr Bound.

Geoff Lockett of Strutt & Parker?s Banchory office (01330 824888) attributes the unexpected surge of activity to the reappearance of buyers from south of the Border and not just from the South-East of England, but also from the South-West and the North. Such buyers appear to fall into two main groups: those in their thirties or forties who are relocating for work reasons, and older buyers who are retiring to Scotland. According to Mr Lockett, Argyll & Bute and Dumfries & Galloway are areas that are sought after by buyers from Yorkshire and Lancashire, who find that they get a lot more for their hard earned ?brass? on the glorious west coast of Scotland than they do at home.

If location and value for money are priorities, then the long-established firm of D. M. MacKinnon ( 01631 566122) in Oban, the ?gateway to the Isles?, are seeking ?offers over £495,000? for Blaven on Pulpit Hill, a substantial family house built for the firm?s owner in 1935. Named after picturesque Bla Bheinn, a 3,044ft Munro on the Isle of Skye, Blaven has breathtaking views across Kerrera Sound to the islands of Kerrera and Mull, and the Firth of Lorn.

For sale for the first time ever, the house has four main reception rooms, a kitchen, a breakfast room, five to six bedrooms, a bathroom, a one-bedroom annexe, and an acre of gardens and grounds.

This article was published in Country Life magazine, January 12, 2005

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