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
"The debate over independence is only just starting out,"
Anna Henderson, director at Savills, told Agrimoney.com.
"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."
Indeed, Savills said that the market was still "bullish",
flagging "multiple bids" for estates for which a closing date for offers was
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.