John Bound, Partner
To those of us who live and work in rural Scotland, the idea of residential property booms seem a rather distant concept these days.
Only this week we've seen a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) stating that average property prices will, by next year, be higher than they were in 2007 before the economic crash. However, many of us within the property sector will not always recognise this forecast there are frequently conflicting reports on the health of the residential property sector and both buyers and sellers are entitled to feel wary about the state of the market and just which way it might go.
Misplaced optimism or, indeed pessimism, when it comes to talking about people's homes quite rightly invites scepticism and what I believe, as a veteran of the Scottish rural property market, people want more than anything is a trustworthy and honest opinion from property professionals.
As we embark on 2013, we believe there are positive signs for the year ahead. Whilst the market did remain flat during 2012, rural sales are generally less prone to the wild swings we see in some parts of the urban market. Large rural homes without much land did suffer slightly in terms of value during last year - with the number of transactions north of 1 million being few and far between but mid-priced and lower value rural homes can still in my view realise a solid return for vendors while at the same time representing good value for purchasers.
As a firm which specialises in the sale, purchase and management of rural estates and farms, the last few years have provided an interesting period and 2013 looks like being no exception.
It is reputed that Scottish country estates come on to the property market on average once every 16 years.
Of course, a great number remain in the same family for generations and this is the primary reason that so much emotional, let alone financial capital, is invested in them. Scottish estates are truly a labour of love.
What has become very noticeable to those of us working closely in the estate market is that those people who have become owners in recent years have shown the same commitment as those whose estates have been in the family for generations. They too are in it for the long haul and want their estate to be a success.
At present there appears little sign of demand for Scottish estates abating. There is generally keen demand principally from UK buyers, although international interest remains strong as well and as a rule demand continues to outstrip supply. We are not, as yet in any event, witnessing a fall in demand due to the debate of Scottish independence but political uncertainty does generally have a negative effect on most sectors of the property market and the longer such uncertainty goes on, the more likely it is to have a detrimental effect.
There continues to be a relatively modest number of estates coming to the market in Scotland in any one year and we predict that demand for Scottish estates will remain robust.
Record grouse numbers have been recorded over the last two years, many rivers have been teeming with salmon and it is these natural resources that drive the market forward. The added attraction of renewable energy potential can also fuel demand from certain buyers.
In the 2011 season grouse shooting experienced one of the most successful resurgences in living memory with many moors exceeding their past records, Although perhaps more patchy in 2012, grouse shooting brings a huge benefit to the rural economy, being estimated at more than 30 million, as well of course as jobs, investment and stability to many fragile rural communities.
Understandably estate purchasers are very particular and whilst the number offered for sale is small, purchasers still have a very keen eye on exactly what they are looking for and just where they want to be. For this reason estates do not sell overnight but careful preparation by the agent and accurate presentation of what is involved often results in a successful sale with the minimum disruption.
Increasingly estates are selling privately between individuals who are keen to maintain their privacy. The agent is key to a successful sale whether privately or on the open market as the correct presentation of the details of the property is essential to allow a smooth transaction to proceed.
Scotland continues to offer outstanding estate properties across a variety of sizes. In recent months, we have marketed two prime examples - Innerwick in Glenlyon, Perthshire and Urrard, also in Perthshire.
Innerwick Estate is a rarity. Stretching over more than 5600 acres, the estate lies in the heart of Scotland's longest and one of its loveliest glens and is a manageable sporting estate in a beautiful and accessible part of Scotland which offers excellent stalking, and over two miles of salmon fishing as well as grouse shooting. In addition, there is low ground rough shooting and duck flighting. At its core is a lovely principal house.
As with so many estates, Urrard Estate, in Highland Perthshire, is steeped in history with the famous battle of Killiecrankie of 1689 being fought nearby.
Urrard is a mixed sporting and residential estate offering traditional stalking, salmon fishing and grouse and pheasant opportunities. There is a solid agricultural enterprise on the estate and an excellent portfolio of residential property. The centrepiece of the 1800-acre estate is a charming, historic renovated mansion. We are pleased to report that missives are now concluded for this estate.
Although this year is still less than a month old, we already working as a firm to prepare for new properties to be marketed. Given the unrivalled beauty and enduring qualities of Scottish estates, it is almost certain that future listings will remain in demand one area of the market that we consider can help optimistic predictions about future property prices. To discuss any aspect of estate sales please get in touch with John Bound at our Inverness office on 01463 224343.
Red stags 35,000 - 45,000
Sika stags 10,000 15,000
Roe buck 5,000 - 10,000
Grouse 3,000 - 4,500
Salmon 5,000 - 10,000
Sea trout 1,000- 2,000