Referendum jitters hit wealthy buyers in the Scottish housing market

All eyes are on the outcome of September’s poll

With its vast country piles, elegant town houses and rugged sporting estates, it is little wonder that generations of the super wealthy or even just the very well-off have dreamed of owning their own little – or very large – bit of Scotland.

Yet amid warnings over the impact of the impending independence vote on the lucrative financial services and energy industries, it has emerged that referendum jitters are now affecting demand for the country’s world famous real estate, with claims that up to a third of super-rich buyers could be delaying buying decisions.

Despite a booming domestic market that saw house sales grow by 16 per cent last year, estate agents report uncertainty over the future tax regime in an independent Scotland, coupled with doubts over the country’s long-term economic prosperity.

Robert McCulloch, a partner at Strutt & Parker, said the full impact of the referendum would not be known until the end of the traditional spring and summer sale season.

“We are currently talking to about 60 people who are actively looking to buy an estate,” said the estate agent. “Of that number, about a third have said they will just wait and see what will happen in September. Two -thirds are saying ‘we are aware of the referendum but we want to go ahead anyway’,” he added.

Ran Morgan, of Edinburgh estate agent Knight Frank, said Scots selling to fellow countryman were largely unaffected. But he added: “If you’re considering moving your family up here from London to embark on a new career – that person is not in the market. If you’re planning on moving back here you are likely to take a rain check to see what happens.”

Scotland still remains a staggeringly cheap property option compared to London. Even in Edinburgh, where the number of properties sold last year increased by nearly a quarter, prices fell 0.6 per cent in 2013, according to Registers of Scotland.

The difference between the cost of country houses in the Home Countries and those in Scotland narrowed considerably in the run-up to the recession. Since the recovery, the South-east of England has pulled away again, making the prospect of Scotland inviting once more.

A two-bedroom flat in London’s Docklands, for example, can still be exchanged for a large detached villa in Edinburgh, while a mid-terrace house in Fulham will trade up for a country pile in Aberdeenshire with 182 acres, its own woodland and salmon river.

Buyers of large sporting estates  are also facing a double whammy amid uncertainty over independence and the implications of ongoing land reform which will provide tenants with the right to buy.

John Coleman of Smiths Gore, who currently has the £7.5 million Laggan estate in Inverness-shire on his books (it comes complete with a 19th- century castle and wild goat shooting), said potential purchasers were playing a waiting game.  “Why would you invest when you are not quite sure what the political situation will be? Nobody buys an estate because they have to. It makes sense to wait,” he said.

Faisal Choudhry, head of research at Savills Scotland, said the country’s unique appeal meant there would always be buyers for the right properties. “Yes, people are asking questions, and there’s anecdotal evidence of people becoming concerned. But I don’t think there’s evidence of people pulling out at the moment because of the destination’s qualities,” he said.

“These buying decisions are emotional things and I don’t think political or economic factors will put someone off who really wants a trophy Scottish estate. Scotland’s natural beauty and quality of life, its educational establishments will always be a pull factor whatever the outcome of the referendum.”

Sarah Speirs, director of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Scotland, said investors could expect few surprises. “So much legislation is already devolved that it is hard to see what can really change in terms of the buying and selling of houses,” she said.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star