Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Would Say No to a Scottish Castle? If We All Fall out, Could It Be Goodbye from Londoners Owning a Historic Highland Pile? by Cathy Hawker

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Who Would Say No to a Scottish Castle? If We All Fall out, Could It Be Goodbye from Londoners Owning a Historic Highland Pile? by Cathy Hawker

Article excerpt

Byline: Cathy Hawker

AN ENGLISHMAN'S home is his castle, as the saying goes, but Scotland can lay claim to the highest concentration of these historic beauties more than 2,000 of them and if you want to buy one, you may have to act fast. With Scots voting on independence tomorrow, the procedure for an English, Welsh or Northern Irish buyer hoping to bag a property north of the border could be about to change forever.

SCOTTISH PROPERTY PRICES Property prices in Scotland have grown 49 per cent in the last decade according to estate agents Strutt & Parker, yet the average house price remains one of the lowest in the UK at PS141,872, against PS533,489 in Greater London and PS256,883 in England and Wales.

Even when you consider Edinburgh's fine Georgian terraces, and rambling estates in rural areas, Scottish property represents striking value. "In total our London property is now worth PS1.5 trillion," says Andrew Bridges of London agents Stirling Ackroyd. "That is almost four times as much as all the residential property in Scotland combined."

You could pick up a castle with a 50-acre estate and fishing rights from PS500,000. English and foreign buyers usually spend between PS1million and PS2.5million says Robert McCulloch of Strutt & Parker. He sells up to six castles a year, with Scotland and southern England each accounting for 40 per cent of buyers and the rest from overseas.

"Buyers want peace and pretty rural locations with the hotspots nearby the popular and attractive Highlands of Perthshire, Inverness-shire and Royal Deeside," adds McCulloch. However, renovation of a castle comes on a grand scale, while repair and running costs can be staggering. Biomass boilers and good insulation are just the start. And buyers should beware of taking on a lot of land with their castle. SNP leader Alex Salmond has pledged new land taxes, and to grant communities the right to buy parts of large estates. "The dream can turn sour," says McCulloch. …

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