As lockdown continues to ease, demand has skyrocketed for property in Scotland, particularly in and around Edinburgh and Glasgow. Rhea Balfour, founder of RJB Property Consultants and Surveyors, has teamed up with Edwina de Klee, regional partner at Garrington Property Finders Scotland, to outline the top ten trends in property buying in Scotland following the global Covid-19 pandemic.
1. Competition is high
Recently there has been an uptick in competition for the most sought-after properties in both the rural and city markets, most of which have been selling for anywhere between 10% and 20% above the home report value. Stock levels are still low, so this is driving prices up, and with the market showing signs of an active start at the beginning of 2020, so much of this demand may boil down not only to a desire for a change of living situation since lockdown, but may be the result of a restrained ‘Boris Bounce’.
2. Purchasing second ‘lifestyle’ homes
Estate agents have been inundated with requests for second ‘lifestyle’ homes, especially now the market is back open in Scotland. If other waves were to happen, people can often take comfort in retreating to a second home knowing that they can leave the denser cities for a more open-air feel. As this second property is additional to their main abode, it can have more of the attributes they have always wanted – bigger garden, nearer to nature, modern architecture and better transport links for entertaining guests. Not only this, but there is a tax advantage to owning a holiday home which is an attractive option for investors and those wanting to capitalise on a second home for the times it is out of use.
3. Useful interior space
One of the biggest pressures Covid-19 had on us, was the sudden shift from office working to home working. It became immediately apparent that many did not have an effective space to work from, causing location, time and productivity issues. With those now looking to move, and with no end in site to the WFH era, ‘useful indoor space’ such as an office, or additional bedroom that can be used as such, is key. Buyers are even getting more imaginative with the space on offer, turning older outbuildings into offices and sheds into family spaces.
4. Rural re-location
Not having a garden during lockdown severely affected the metal health of many and made it obvious that outdoor space was a must going forward. The sudden importance of taking time outside each day has seen a staggering increase in movement from built-up locations to the countryside. People now value their outdoor spaces more than ever and if they are unable to secure a property with a sufficient garden, having a rural haven on their doorstep is just as enticing.
5. Leaving London, drawn to Scotland
Because of this, we have seen a massive increase in big city dwellers upping sticks for locations they perhaps wouldn’t have considered before. For example, Savills reported a 71% increase of London buyers registering a property in Scotland. Panicking about being in such densely populated areas and looking at where spikes have been reported, potential buyers are aiming to move to the more ‘lifestyle’ places that would see a certain degree of comfort should we be hit with future lockdowns.
Due to the lack of properties on the market, which is pushing up the pricing, many would-be-movers are looking into building their own properties. This not only allows the bypass of a chain, but also ensures the ability to include all of the ‘must-haves’ on your list – bigger kitchen, office space and additional bedrooms for example.
7. House not location
Location is no longer the number one priority, instead it is space, garden, local amenities and even Covid-19 numbers. No longer strapped to commuter belt locations – whilst the popular commuter locations such as East Lothian are still in high demand and clients will perhaps still start their search in these areas – we are seeing a much increased flexibility when it comes to looking further afield. The reality of how much value for money can be achieved outside these zones is changing the way buyers are looking at opportunities we present to them
Again, with home working the ‘new normal’ a huge degree of importance is put into finding a location where the broadband is top quality. A gorgeous village with rolling hills is all well and good if you are still able to get the high speeds needed to meet your work deadlines. Poor connections have been a real tester during lockdown and even those purchasing second ‘lifestyle’ homes make it a top priority when searching.
9. Switch back to renting
Many landlords are switching back from the AirBnB model to the PRT system which may be a cause for concern in the immediate future as landlords compete for tenants.
10. Reduction in investment properties for students
Demand in the investment market appears to remain as strong as ever despite Covid-19. That said we have seen a decrease in parents seeking investment properties to be used by their student children, which was a particularly large market in St Andrews, for instance. It is likely that once studying goes back to normal and is no longer replaced by online courses, this part of the market will return.