Interest in Scottish rural estates remains relatively healthy despite the independence referendum and the possibility of new land reform legislation, according to Scotland's leading property consultants, CKD Galbraith with prospective buyers emerging from London, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Middle East as well as Scotland. Improvements in the general residential property market have also been experienced.
Although a slowdown is expected and this will inevitably become more noticeable around the time of the referendum, to date there has been no compelling evidence that the referendum has had a negative effect on estate sales.
The impending legislation on land reform, which will be introduced post-referendum and before the next elections in 2016, will have an impact on estate owners and their land-based business activities.
John Bound, partner and head of CKD Galbraith's estates division in the Highlands, said: "Highland estates come to the market on average only once every 16 years and around 20 are sold annually. The number of estates sold in both 2012 and 2013 was 16, with a total sale value of some 60m and 70m in each respective year.
"The question on most people's minds this year is what possible affects the impending referendum will have on the demand and supply of Scottish estates. To date, there is no compelling evidence that the referendum has had a significant negative effect on the estate market. Indeed, there is some evidence, in the form of recent estate sales in the Borders and Argyll that some prudent purchasers are keen to buy now and are taking the view that prices may well rise, post-referendum.
"However, as is generally the case in general election years, we anticipate that the uncertainty of the referendum may slow the estate market down in 2014. In keeping with the recovery in the general residential property market, we do however expect the estate market to show continued activity some time after the referendum. Given the unique nature of estate properties and the relatively few estates that are marketed every year, the market will, we believe, pick up again and continue growing once the dust has settled."
CKD Galbraith recently marketed Invermarkie Estate in a number of lots (guide price for the whole 4.775m) and a large part of it has now gone under offer. An Aberdeenshire mixed and diverse 1500-acre estate with agricultural, residential, sporting and renewable possibilities, Invermarkie generated interest from Ireland, Denmark, Malaysia and the Far East.
Kinpurnie Estate, about 5000 acres on the fertile vale of Strathmore in Angus, was marketed in 23 lots ranging from 280,000 up to 6m. With an aggregate price of 29m, this estate generated worldwide interest at the recent closing date.