Canny London buyers vote for Edinburgh

The independence referendum is no bar to property bargain hunters
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If home buyers in Scotland are apprehensive about the results of the independence referendum this September, they are hiding it well. The Registrars of Scotland report that sales have risen 26 per cent since 2012, while prices continue to rise steadily, up 3.9 per cent year on year.

Knight Frank figures also tell a positive tale, with the Georgian gems of Edinburgh showing 1.5 per cent rises in the three months to March.

Many sellers are waiting to learn the referendum result before marketing their homes but buyers appear less concerned, says Ran Morgan, head of Knight Frank Scotland, who reports a marked increase in the number of London purchasers over the past year. 

"People with roots in Scotland or a desire to own a home here are not put off by the referendum," says Morgan. "Second-home hunters, parents buying for their children at Scottish universities and young professionals moving to Edinburgh for a career in the finance sector are all continuing to buy."

A city for business
After a year living in Brixton and working in the City, Harry Gourlay, 25, set up the H2O Hydro company which designs and builds hydroelectric schemes. Edinburgh provided excellent financial incentives and he moved there last September. "I got a grant for £5,000 to help get the business going," he says. "I also got paid to employ a university student." He lives in the city centre and says rental and overall monthly living costs are £300 cheaper than in London.

Edinburgh certainly punches above its weight for culture. As well as the world's largest arts festival, it boasts an annual book festival, six Michelin-starred restaurants, four theatres, good shopping and a proud sporting heritage, while the beaches towards North Berwick and the Pentland Hills Regional Park are within 30 minutes.

There are several good private and state schools, and house prices and rents represent good value for Londoners. The £1.5million you spend in Fulham would buy a Georgian townhouse with twice the floorspace in central Edinburgh, and rental yields are attractive - local specialist Cullen Property says seven per cent net is achievable.

Georgian Elegance
New Town in Edinburgh is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the world's largest Georgian urban area. Broad streets and squares laid out in a formal grid feature elegant, flat-fronted homes with high ceilings and big rooms. "For space-starved Londoners the room dimensions are striking," says Ed Douglas-Home of Knight Frank Edinburgh. "The city has plenty of purpose-built apartments in Georgian buildings with grand entrance halls and staircases."

A four-bedroom, 1,631sq ft first-floor flat in St Vincent Street, steps from The Royal Circus, is typical of what sells well. Light and airy with original features including shutters and elegant fireplaces, it is on the market with Knight Frank for offers over £525,000.

A three-bedroom flat on the top floor of a Georgian building off The Royal Mile seems striking value at offers over £595,000, also through Knight Frank. Strutt & Parker is selling a three-bedroom first-floor flat for offers over £360,000, with the option for access to Queen Street Gardens. 

Also central in the New Town, a two-bedroom flat on the second floor of a Georgian townhouse is on for offers over £370,000. "The wider economic recovery is overriding any concerns about the referendum, as demand is recovering in Edinburgh," says Ed Douglas-Home. "The mood here is increasingly upbeat. Edinburgh will always be an attractive, cultural place to live as well as the UK's second largest major financial centre after London."

* Knight Frank: (0131 222 9606) 
* Strutt & Parker: (0131 226 2500) 

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