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'A couple sold their £650k London home - and bought £350k West End flat outright'

Barry Walker examines the truth behind the record number of people outside Scotland buying property in areas like the West End of Glasgow.

Rumours are constantly in circulation about how Scotland is reaping the benefits of the overheating London property market.

City professionals are flocking north to live, mortgage-free because of fears about the English capital’s property market, so the stories go.

 Outside investors: are the rumours true?
Outside investors: are the rumours true?

And areas like the West End, where the lifestyles of Hampstead and Notting Hill can best be replicated, are where these cash-rich house-hunters are targeting most.

I always take such stories with a pinch of salt. I’ve sold plenty of West End homes to non-natives, including many who have moved to Glasgow from London.

They’re always thrilled at the quality of property they’re able to buy compared with what they sold but invariably they’re moving here for a reason – because their job has relocated, to be nearer family etc.

I’ve never met one who bought a home in London before prices soared and was now looking to up sticks and buy in Scotland simply to cash in.

There are few, if any who would regard a mortgage-free existence in the heart of the West End sufficient reward for the 400 plus miles commute, I suspect.

But consider this, recently published statistic: last year, some 25 per cent of buyers of homes worth £1 million or more were from outside Scotland and that figure has risen since the start of 2017. At no time in the past decade has the number of property-buying incomers to Scotland been higher.

Many property professionals point to market changes – including stricter lending criteria, new buy-to-let legislation and the effect of political unrest – which they say has prompted the boom.

The reality is that you don’t need to be a Premier League footballer or a hedge fund manager on a seven-figure bonus to own a home in London that is worth over £1million.

 Reasons: There are many factors why a high proportion of Scots properties are going to buyers from outside the country
Reasons: There are many factors why a high proportion of Scots properties are going to buyers from outside the country

Many ordinary professionals like teachers and accountants can buy much larger homes in affluent areas of Scotland like Glasgow’s West End outright for half the price of their London homes, and still bank a big profit.

The average house price in London is around £630,000 while, in Scotland, it is £175,000. I know of one couple who sold their £650,000 home in London and bought a flat, mortgage-free, outright for £350,000 in the West End.

To meet the growing demand, developers are becoming more ambitious and creative with high-end projects that facilitate modern, luxury living within the traditional architectural heritage of the area.

Earlier this year the Hoskins Architects and CCG (Scotland) Ltd completed the Noah Developments at Hillside Gardens Lane, a complex of six contemporary townhouses each designed to complement the surrounding Victorian architecture of the area.

The project also included the renovation of the clubhouse at Partickhill Bowling Club, as well as the creation of high-end private landscaped gardens.

It followed the completion of residential projects at the redeveloped Willowbank Primary, The Ballet School and The Observatory, a bespoke 19-apartment complex on Highburgh Road, awarded Development of the Year 2015 by the Herald Property Awards.

The next major project is the ambitious transformation of the former Western Infirmary and expansion of the University of Glasgow.

As well as comprising a new public square surrounded by academic buildings, it will include shops, restaurants, a hotel and residential property.

* Barry Walker has worked for more than ten years in Glasgow’s property industry - the last five in the West End where he lives. Barry set up Walker Wylie with his business partner Stuart Wylie last year.

For more information visit http://www.walkerwylie.co.uk

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