Popularity grows for Scottish estates in private sales

A growing number of Scottish estates are being sold privately.

In a market of reducing supply, where only 16 estates, totalling some 70,000 acres sold for a combined £68 million in 2017 compared to 23 totalling 100,000 acres selling for over £80 million in 2016 – but there was an 8% increase in the number of private estate deals in 2017 compared to 2016.

Anna Henderson, of the premium property buying department at Galbraith, says this reflects the changing shape and mood of both the market and sellers, with an increasing number of estates now being sold off-market.

Galbraith Premium Property dominates the estates buying market in Scotland. Since its inception in 2016, advice has been provided to over 50% of those buyers who sought the services of a property agent with the next nearest competitor having only 20% market share.

Anna said: ‘As specialist buying agents we know what might be available privately, what could possibly be bought off market, who the potential competition might be, and what level of bid might be required to ensure success.

‘We know the history of nearly every Scottish estate, what they have sold for previously and where they sit in the market today. We can also value for bank security, so we have all the valuation evidence at our finger tips.

‘Finding an estate or farm that suits your needs can take months or even years and can be a daunting and challenging prospect.

‘Buying such a property is a hugely significant and expensive undertaking, and it is extraordinary that the majority of buyers, while taking legal advice, fail to take independent property or strategic advice, relying on the selling agent, who is of course acting for the seller.’

Galbraith recently advised a private buyer on the purchase of two neighbouring properties in the Highlands and having endured six months of negotiations, the buyer observed that they would not have had the resolve to continue without the expert advice provided each step of the way.

Anna added: ‘At the time our client was unsure how to acquire both properties simultaneously, or what price they would have to pay to achieve that.

‘There were many complexities to negotiate along the way due to the nature of the estate which comprised a mix of elements including sport, forestry, buildings and farmland, and we were able to advise on all aspects of the purchase providing reassurance that the price paid was reasonable.’

On another recent deal Galbraith acted for overseas clients who sought advice just moments before they had agreed a deal to buy an estate. The purchase was later completed at a figure £1.5 million less than was ‘on the table’ at the point they sought help. A number of issues were also resolved that might very well have caused problems for the buyer in the future.

Anna continued: ‘It really is extraordinary to think that a house buyer will always receive or instruct a homebuyer’s report for the acquisition of a house, whereas an estate or farm purchaser’s first port of call is often a lawyer with an instruction to effectively bid blind.

‘A farm, estate or substantial property can be a complicated asset that usually comes with all sorts of rights and obligations which are always best understood before committing to a price and an expensive adventure.’