Scottish independence places question over estates

Fears over Scottish independence may have played a role in a halving in the value of Scottish estates sold last year, Savills said, but cautioned against ideas of a structural decline in the market.

The number of estates sold in Scotland this year has fallen to 14, with a combined value of £37m.

That compares with a 22 estates sold last year for a total of £86m, and was - bar 2009, the year the global economic crisis hit its nadir the lowest result of the last six for which data are available.

Savills, the property consultancy, said that some of the reduction as down to "sellers' anxiety about prices and the global economy", but acknowledged "that the uncertainty surrounding the Scottish Independence debate could also be a contributing factor".

Land ownership has already attracted considerable debate in Scotland since the country gained its own parliament in 1999, and reforms including measures to enhance the rights of crofters, operators of small Highland farms.

'Lifetime aspiration'

"The debate over independence is only just starting out," Anna Henderson, director at Savills, told

"We do not know what the implications will be yet," even if independence passes a vote in 2014.

But how much of this uncertainty is reflected in the market "depends on who you are dealing with".

"Owning a fine Scottish sporting estimate is often a lifetime aspiration rather than a business decision."

'Multiple bids'

Indeed, Savills said that the market was still "bullish", flagging "multiple bids" for estates for which a closing date for offers was set.

Analysis at an underlying level, comparing the component parts, such as houses and woodland, on estates suggested "little has changed since the 2007 peak", when 19 estates were sold for a total of £71m.

Ms Henderson said: "Those sellers who went to the open market this year were well rewarded as there have been some spectacularly strong deals done at closing dates," to UK and foreign buyers, including one Chinese purchaser.

Estates currently on the market, for in excess of £8m, include 7,000-acre Gledfield in Sutherland, which Savills says "embraces all country pursuits", offering duck flighting, deer stalking, grouse shooting and salmon fishing.

Rival property consultancy Knight Frank is marketing the 28,000-acre Auch and Invermearan estate, including "some of Scotland's most dramatic and beautiful terrain", open to offers above £8.4m.

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