The general election brought a landslide of new Scottish MPs to London but now the march is in the opposite direction, as record numbers of buyers head from the capital to the Scottish hills for keenly priced homes.
“Despite all the political issues of the past year, we have seen a real appetite for Scotland with a 100 per cent increase in London-based applicants,” says Andrew Perratt, head of residential for Savills Scotland. “The value gap is fascinating for them when they realise a castle here is the same price as a two-bedroom flat in Islington.”
Quality homes, great prices
The average price of a home in Edinburgh is £283,533, while the London average is £475,961. And while London prices have risen 35 per cent since 2007, in the Scottish capital they remain 5.8 per cent below pre-recession peaks.
This is the value gap that is encouraging more southerners to relocate, says Perratt, especially when they see the quality of homes on offer. Georgian homes in New Town offer generous room proportions with high ceilings and elegant features.
Then there is the lifestyle in a compact but vibrant city — population about 500,000 — surrounded by wonderful nature. Education is another key factor. The city offers excellent schools, and one in four children in Edinburgh is privately educated.
Blair Stewart from Strutt & Parker agrees that the Edinburgh market is sizzling, especially for properties between £250,000 and £400,000.
“Good one- and two-bedroom apartments in New Town are being chased by young professionals and parents buying for their children at university,” he says. “Prime apartments between £400,000 and £800,000 are also changing hands fast.”
Central four-bedroom apartments start from £550,000 and townhouses from £1 million. With prime property so much more affordable than in London, it is no surprise that Edinburgh has a substantial contingent of so-called Willies — those who Work In London, Live In Edinburgh.
“Catch an easyJet or BA flight from Edinburgh to London early on a Monday morning and you’ll see the plane is full of professionals who realise the great quality of life families can have in Scotland,” says Stewart.
The country house scene
Scottish country houses also offer outstanding value for money. Savills predicts a rosy outlook, estimating Scottish prices will rise by 17.5 per cent in the next five years compared to 19.5 per cent across the UK.
One hour north of Edinburgh, the coastal university town of St Andrews is a golfer’s delight, home to 10 courses. Stone cottages start from £350,000, with substantial detached family homes for £500,000.
On the other side of Scotland, the north-west coast provides exceptional and isolated beauty with pretty, white-washed cottages from £250,000. Prized locations include waterfront Gairloch, the fishing port of Lochinver and the Isle of Skye.
“Towns including Scourie and Applecross are popular, even though they are all at least two hours from Inverness,” says Kevin Maley of Strutt & Parker. “You can’t get there quickly, but with the amazing scenery all around you — mountains, lakes and the sea — you simply don’t want to.”
On the market for offers of more than £450,000 is an eight-bedroom guest house on Skye. It is a renovated, extended croft house with a four-star gold rating from Visit Scotland and an annual turnover of £76,000.