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Green investors and ‘Covid-flight’ buyers drive record investment in Scottish estates

Gledfield Estate in Sutherland was on the market for £5m last year.
Gledfield Estate in Sutherland was on the market for £5m last year.

Green investors and Covid-flight buyers – those escaping the city for the countryside during the pandemic – drove a record £112 million investment in the purchase of Scottish estates last year, claims Strutt & Parker.

Figures from the rural land agency reveal 24 of the 36 estates offered for sale in 2020 were either sold or under offer by the end of the year, with further sales agreed during the first three months of the years.

It said a drop in sales had been expected during the Covid-19 crisis, due to a large proportion of estate buyers traditionally coming from overseas, however the market had been “remarkably resilient” during the pandemic.

“We are seeing increased competition for estates due to a rise in green investors, whose interest in buying a Scottish estate comes from its potential for afforestation, carbon capture and rewilding, rather than traditional field sports,” said Robert McCulloch, head of estates agency for Strutt & Parker in Scotland.

“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.”

Afforestation is a key driver for green investors.

He said analysis of buyers showed 16 of the successful purchasers were UK-based and eight were from overseas, with four coming from the USA.

The average size of estate being offered for sale was 2,349 – this is below the five-year average of 3,880 acres – and the offering ranged from 127 acres to 10,199 acres.

Four of the estates sold in 2020 were at prices in excess of £10m, with a further three in the £5m to £10m price bracket, and the average sale price achieved in the year was £4.7m – above the five-year average of £3.7m.

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

“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.”

Savills recently reported similar trends with a new wave of ‘green lairds’ snapping up Scottish estates.

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