Why are Americans snapping up high-end homes in Scotland?

The Americans were on a property shopping spree in Scotland.

US buyers now represent 4% of all transactions recorded by Savills Properties, up from 1% in 2019. Agents have reported a continued rise in buying from Americans, particularly at the top of the market. Interest actually rose after the pound fell last year to a level near parity with the US dollar, which is the weakest on record. Agents say the British currency has recovered, but interest in real estate remains.

Riccardo Volpe, of Knight Frank, says 40% of prime purchases – deals in excess of £1 million ($1.25 million) – in Edinburgh were by buyers from outside Scotland. This includes Londoners and Scots returning after living and working elsewhere, but he has seen Americans looking for historic homes or housing in the city.

“There is a huge demand for city center townhouses worth more than £2m with outdoor space,” says Volpe, who highlights New Town, an area north of Princes Street known for its Georgian period houses, as a popular area. spot. He is the agent on one of Scotland’s most expensive properties: an eight-bedroom house designed in the Scottish baronial style, with 7.8 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland, listed at £6 million.

With a population of just over half a million, Edinburgh is famous for its scenic medieval city centre, the thousand-year-old castle in the city centre, a thriving pub and whiskey scene, and summer festivals such as the Fringe. . In tourism, Edinburgh is the second most visited city in the United Kingdom, after London; A boom in new luxury hotel openings includes top-rated Gleneagles Townhouses and 100 Princes Street, which the operators of Ashford Castle intend to open next year.

Sales of homes priced above £1m have been on a tear since the pandemic, driven by Edinburgh’s urban amenities and easy access to the countryside and popular green spaces such as Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat. From March 2020 to June 2023, the average sale price of a home priced at £2 million and above rose by 32.6%, according to Knight Frank. (UK house prices rose by 20% on average over that period, according to data from Halifax.) But recently, prices fell by 1.1% year-on-year in Edinburgh, according to Knight Frank. It’s part of a larger decline in the housing market due to rising mortgage costs.

Many Americans have family ties to Scotland, and the heritage inspires big purchases, says Max Mills, head of Edinburgh residential sales for Riti Properties. These clients typically pay cash, which means they won’t fall behind on increased mortgage rates.

“The buyers were people who wanted to come to Edinburgh to enjoy the festival or come to the Scottish Open – and who were here on holiday but wanted their own home base,” says Rettie. He says he saw golf in particular as a big draw for Americans, citing famous golf courses such as St Andrews and Gleneagles. The game of golf originated in Scotland.

“Some well-connected Americans are already members of high-profile golf clubs in Scotland, and are buying homes when they have time to start playing the links here more regularly,” says Rettie. Americans also like that the housing stock includes castles whose history far exceeds anything in the United States.

One such castle currently for sale is Dunbeath Castle, which sits dramatically on a cliff above the North Sea. It is listed for £25 million by Savills and includes 28,500 acres of land and 12.5 miles of rivers flowing to the coast. A castle has existed on the site since the 15th century.

Earlier this year, Utah solicitor David Levitt and his wife bought the 19th-century Knockderry Castle in Argyll for £1 million. They started a blog to document their renovations. They have been dreaming of such a purchase for more than a decade. Savills says Toy Barclay Castle in Aberdeenshire is also being offered by an American buyer. The construction dates back to the fourteenth century AD.

Meanwhile, a famous American is looking to offload a key piece of property. Nobel laureate Bob Dylan has a slice of Scottish history up for sale this summer: Aultmore House, a 16-room Edwardian mansion in the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands, is listed with Knight Frank for £3 million. The agent for the 18,357 sq ft property says Dylan has not been able to use the property as much in recent years after buying it with his brother for £2.25 million in 2006.

Jess Simpson, who runs a real estate company in Oxfordshire, England, says her American clients are looking for trophy properties like castles. The Simpson Agency helps clients find homes worth £7 million and above. It has seen a three-fold increase in buyers from the US in the past year, including someone who bought a house for £80m when the pound was worth little more than the dollar.

“The triple choice for wealthy American clients in UK property is generally a house in London, a property in the country – somewhere like the Cotswolds – and a castle or Scottish estate,” says Simpson.

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