Coronavirus: Pandemic driving 'exceptional interest' in Scots homes

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image captionThe Highlands and Islands has been seen as one of the most desirable areas among buyers

Parts of Scotland are experiencing a post-lockdown property sales boom, say solicitors.

Hundreds of inquiries have come from England and there has been "exceptional interest" from buyers in Hong Kong.

The uptick in interest is being put down to previously office-based staff being able to work from home and perceived lower rates of Covid-19.

Homes in the Highlands and Island and Arran in North Ayrshire are proving particularly popular.

The pandemic and the introduction of the lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the property market.

The Registers of Scotland, which keeps public registers of land and property, has reported the number of transactions between April and June were "greatly reduced".

It recorded 9,387 property sales over that period, compared with 25,749 for the same time last year.

'Pent up demand'

But solicitors and estate agents said there is demand following an easing of restrictions, which include the allowing of all house moving since 29 June.

Ken McEwan, chief executive of Edinburgh-based McEwan Fraser Legal, said his firm currently had about 1,500 viewing inquiries for properties across Scotland, with 500 of the inquiries received over the past three months from buyers in England.

He said: "In my 30 plus years in the property market, I have never seen the market so buoyant with so much pent up demand and so many buyers acting irrationally with offers way above the Home Report value for properties in the most desirable areas.

"English buyers are out-bidding many Scottish buyers. We are also seeing exceptional interest from buyers from Hong Kong."

Waiting list

Mr McEwan said there was a waiting list for some properties on Arran.

He added: "Buyers are mostly looking to buy in the Highlands for a better quality of life due to threats of Covid-19, and are paying off their mortgages with the higher sales prices that can be achieved in many parts of England for their houses."

Mr McEwan said he expected the market to start to "seriously correct itself" towards the end of this year and at the start of 2021.

He also warned that some people may be forced to become sellers if they lose their jobs once furlough comes to an end and they can no longer meet their mortgage payments.

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image captionMoving to the Highlands and Islands offers a "better quality of life" says homeworker Joe Newman

Bernadette Walker, manager of the Highland Solicitors Property Centre, said the lockdown had shown people no longer needed to work in offices.

Video conferencing and other online tools have allowed office-based staff to work from home.

Ms Walker said homeworking was one of the drivers behind increased interest in properties in the Highlands.

She said: "There has been a lot of south-of-the-border-interest in places up here.

"There have been a lot of people looking for extra outdoor space.

"Lots of people like the idea of living up here but because of reasons before they weren't able to.

"With things shifting so much, it has got people really thinking about what they can now do."

'Incredible scenery'

Pension specialist Joe Newman said he could understand the appeal of homeworking in the Highlands and Islands having swapped 12 years of working in an office in London for working from home.

Mr Newman, who lives and works in South Uist in the Western Isles, said: "Quality of life has got to be the main thing, it's very different to the hustle and bustle of London," he said.

"Here I go to the beach for lunch or up to the hills after work to watch the sunset. The scenery and the environment is just incredible."