English are coming.
Jenny Shields. Daily Mail Friday September 13
you lived in the Borders in the 16th century it was a cry that made
women weep and men don their spurs. However, the raiding parties
of today are armed not with broadswords but sales particulars. Once
again, our southern cousins are coming in numbers to settle, not
just for work. And the main reason for these relocations from the
economic engine of the South-East to Scotland? Quite simply, people
from the Home Counties are seeking to recapture a quality of life,
which many feel the South may have lost for good. The search for
that elusive feel-good factor is driving so many southern buyers
over the Border that one local estate agent reports househunters
coming on 'property shopping trips'. Bolstered by the high value
of their homes, particularly In the Home Counties, they can afford
to bid well over the asking price when they see a property they
Hastings noticed the start of the trend a while ago and decided
to angle his business towards the English househunter. Since then
the number of inquiries to his Kelso estate agency has increased
so dramatically that it now makes up the bulk of his property sales.
He claims that significant numbers of people from the South take
a week off work, come up to the Borders, check into a local hotel
and literally go shopping for a house.
Hastings' said: 'We're not talking about holidaymakers looking
in an estate agent's window but people who are here for a
single purpose, to find a property.'
Hastings, whose company also runs a popular website, has capitalised
on the interest in the Borders property market by becoming 'southern
friendly'. There's no dark talk here of the 'auld enemy' -just an
enthusiastic welcome for anyone contemplating a move northwards.
Hastings added: 'Buying a house can be difficult enough but
when you are unfamiliar with the country and it's legal system
it can be very hard, so I decided to orientate the business
specifically towards the English market.'
has a wide client base but most are middle-aged 'down-shifters'
who are able, having sold up down South, to buy almost anything
that takes their fancy.
of his househunters come to him with a very clear Idea of what they
want. Properties in need of refurbishment are particularly popular.
If a place has already been done up it doesn't tend to sell as quickly
as an old place which needs everything done - those are the places
that command premium prices these days.
influx of buyers with plenty of cash has, unsurprisingly, had a
knock-on effect. While people with desirable houses to sell are
delighted at the revitalised property market - some have been achieving
as much as 50 per cent over the asking price - people trying to
get their first foot on the property ladder now find the bottom
rung out of reach.
Hastings is aware of those being squeezed out of the property market
and says that prices at the lower end, typically former local authority
homes, small flats or very modest cottages, have risen between 20
and 25 per cent - bad news for anyone working in what has always
been a low-wage economy.
while some people might find it harder to buy their first home,
Mr Hastings is in no doubt that the net effect of this migration
is positive. He said incomers tend to spend more, thus benefiting
the local economy. The story is the same in other parts of the country.
Edinburgh has also seen a dramatic increase in the number of English
buyers in the last 12 months. In 2000 they made up 33 per cent of
all sales, compared with 51 per cent by people living in Scotland.
But Mr Hastings' latest figures show this has now risen to 43 per
cent of property purchases, just five per cent behind domestic sales.
The rush of clients on to the firm's books, while welcome, has led
to a dire shortage of property. Price is not usually a factor although
Increased competition for good-quality country houses with a bit
of land and ideally within an hour or two of Edinburgh means that
some southern buyers, once- confident of getting whatever-they wanted,
are now finding they have to pay more than they first anticipated.
Glasgow, too, English buyers now make up a significant percentage
of the firm's business. Andrew Perratt, of estate agents FPD
Savills In Glasgow, recently sold a 'magical' property on
the West Coast near Fort William, which had an asking price
of 325,000. Seven of the eight offers came from English clients.
There is also a tendency among English buyers to seek out
remote properties - with Argyll a particularly favourite area.
Mr Perratt recalls selling a place to one couple In the middle
of nowhere'. He said they installed a state-of-the-art office
and relocated their business. Now, instead of being in the
heart of London, they look over rolling countryside. 'I think
it gives them a kick when clients just assume they are in
the middle of the city when In fact they are about as far
from It as can be.'