Few locations in Scotland currently offer buyers more value for money than the Borders according to Rettieâ€™s Melrose sales manager Rob Taylor
In testing economic conditions, the optimum factor driving people in search of a new home is value for money; one of the primary reasons the Scottish Borders is enjoying encouraging signs of nascent market activity.
Eighteen hundred square miles in area and diverse as it is beautiful, the Scottish Borders has a rich history of Common Riding and cross border skirmishes. Through the ages newcomers have settled in key towns – Peebles, Hawick, Melrose, Galashiels, Kelso and Berwick – and surrounding areas, and this tradition persists today. Driven partly by buyers from within Scotland reassessing their lifestyle through choice, necessity and sometimes both, many people are relocating to the Borders cash rich after selling their previous property and are striking gold. Few locations in Scotland currently offer house buyers more value for money.
Perhaps with a nod to its historic steeliness, the Borders property market has displayed a quiet resilience to dramatic decreases in house prices across the UK over the past 18 months. While many regions have seen prices fall by 20% since the peak of the property market in July 2007, in the Borders this figure is closer to 12-18%; the reasons are primarily location and limited property supply. As house prices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and other rural areas of Scotland such as Perthshire and Fife rapidly appreciated during the heady days of the early 2000s, limited house stock and steady demand in the Borders ensured upward price hikes were more cautious and gradual. Come the property downturn 18 months ago, and with not as far to fall, the decrease in property prices in the Borders was less substantial. And projecting to the future all the signs are the length of the market slow-down will be shorter. For my part, as Manager of Rettie & Co’s Melrose office, it is too early to even whisper the word recovery. However, in the Borders there are nascent signs of encouragement in the form of increased market activity.
Sales are up
Viewings, new buyer enquires and sales are up month on month this year and an increasing trend is that three out of four buyers today are cash rich and have already sold their property before offering on another, in turn driving sales and stemming the decrease in house values month on month in this year. Newly introduced Home Reports have also played a part in stabilising house prices, as buyers are able to see property values confirmed by a surveyor, in turn giving confidence to sellers, that the right price is being asked.
As a local Borders boy returning home after 17 years down south, I understand why most of our sales to date this year have been made to people relocating to the Borders with money to spend. Clients relocating from Edinburgh and London are acquiring homes in the Borders with the same square footage as their previous homes for a price-tag of 50% less. Accessibility to Edinburgh and the north of England and lifestyle choice are also driving increased activity. Central Borders towns such as Peebles are within commutable distance to major cities in both Scotland and England, and increasingly people buying in the Borders commuter belt are rationalising that a bigger house in the country is worth longer hours in the car.
Quality of life
Towns such as Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirk are benefiting from society’s increased hankering for ‘community’ and sustainable living in the face of promised austere times ahead. Pretty market towns, Kelso, Selkirk, Jedburgh and St Boswells, and their surround, offer a wide diversity of property styles and as more people to buy into the ‘good life’, growing vegetables and keeping hens, demand for properties with gardens or land attached is on the increase. Melrose and Peebles are the property hotspots, with prices on average 20% higher than elsewhere in the Borders. Attractive locations to commuters and ‘good-lifers’ alike, properties for sale in both towns are attracting much interest and selling quickly.
Rettie & Co is a multidiscipline Scottish property company with offices in Melrose, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Melrose office 01896 824 070. www.rettie.co.uk