Homes in an Aberdeenshire village are proving so popular estate agents are struggling to find enough properties to keep up with increased demand.
Alford has piqued the most interest in the north-east as people living in larger towns and cities have re-evaluated priorities during lockdown.
Rightmove has revealed there was a 58% surge in searches for homes in the Donside village on its property website last year, amid what its experts claim is “record demand” for rural homes.
Alford branch manager at Re/Max Scotland, Gary Moyse, said: “I’m seeing lots of people moving up here from England, particularly around the London area, because they’re looking for more outdoor space.
“I’m personally dealing with about three sales a week.
“I had one home that was listed at £380,000 but it sold for over £420,000, that’s the level of demand right now.
“I’m at the stage now where I’m trying to get more stock because I’m starting to get short.”
Properties garnering the most interest, Mr Moyse said, are those with accompanying land for the outdoor activities, as those living in modern city developments find themselves enclosed due to Covid restrictions.
“Alford is a great little village; it’s very vibrant and very beautiful and I don’t think you could move anywhere better in the north-east – it’s got everything you could want in a countryside location and the community is very welcoming.
“I often bump into people I’ve sold a home to who might’ve only lived in Alford for a couple of weeks, but they say it feels like they’ve been there for years because the people are so friendly.”
Across Aberdeenshire, interest in Huntly increased by more than a quarter, with buyers also eager to find properties in Fraserburgh (up 13%), Ballater (up 8%) and Peterhead (up 6%).
Councillor Gwyneth Petrie, whose Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford ward includes Rightmove’s top two Aberdeenshire markets, said: “Throughout the pandemic, working from home has become the norm, but I think this has led to a realisation that the reliance on office-based work will change going forward, and many will continue to work from home for at least part of their working week.
“As part of this, the need to live so close to your place of work has reduced, and many will now be considering Alford and Huntly as possibilities, where the commute isn’t as high on the priority list.
“In Huntly in particular, we have felt there haven’t been young families moving in and the population has been older.
“There has been frustration and dismay at that so hearing of renewed interest is brilliant.”
Last week, UK Government figures showed prices increased in Aberdeenshire by 1.6% last year, while Granite City homes lost 2.1% off their value.
Further north, the market inflated by 8.5% in Moray and 5.3% in the Highlands.
Head of residential agency at Galbraith Aberdeen, Hannah Christiansen, said buyers were now looking for space, privacy, land and the outdoors on their doorstep.
She added: “The aspiration for a better outdoor lifestyle has never been higher and has created an improved market across Aberdeenshire.
“Buyers appreciate small, friendly communities in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside and discover that rural properties can offer better value for money compared to suburban or city centre properties.”