Highest ever investment in Scottish land market seen in 2020

Increased interest in environmental investment and demand from residential and lifestyle buyers resulted in a record total of £112m paid for Scottish estates during 2020.

Despite Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions, the market remained resilient, according to Strutt & Parker.

Robert McCulloch, head of estates agency in Scotland, said: “During the course of 2020, of the 36 estates offered for sale, 24 were sold or under offer at the year end. Several more sales have been agreed during the first three months of this year.

See also: Land in your area 2020: Scotland

“We are seeing increased competition for estates due to a rise in green investors, whose interest comes from the potential for afforestation, carbon capture and rewilding, rather than traditional field sports.

“For smaller, more residentially focused estates, demand has also increased from people who want to leave more heavily populated parts of the UK and Europe as part of the ‘Covid flight’ to the countryside.”

Of the successful purchasers, 16 were UK-based and eight were from overseas, with four coming from the US.

Although American buyers have long been attracted to Scotland, Mr McCulloch said this had rarely translated to more than one or two estates being bought each year.

Demand at all-time high

Last year Scotland also saw a large increase in off-market transactions, with 33% of sales being achieved privately.

The largest estate for sale was 10,199 acres and the smallest was 127 acres. Craig Castle Estate in Aberdeenshire – a 1,562-acre residential and sporting estate in the foothills of the Grampian mountains – was launched for offers in excess of £1.1m.

The average sale price achieved in 2020 was £4.7m (above the five-year average of £3.7m), with the average size of holding for sale being 2,349 acres (below the five-year average of 3,880 acres).

Four estates were sold at prices in excess of £10m, with a further three in the £5m-£10m price bracket.

Mr McCulloch said: “It is evident from both market analysis and prevailing sentiment that demand in the Scottish estate sector is at a record high while supply of estates for sale – consistent with long-term trends – remains restricted.

“We anticipate that the combination of an increased appetite for environmental investment, a continuation of the Covid-flight trend and value for money relative to many other property asset classes will continue to drive demand. This will be set against a supply that will remain at or around 30 estates for sale during the year.”

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