Scottish estate agents predict expensive commuter towns will become less popular post-pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to spark a boom in rural living, with working from home and multi-generational families becoming more common, estate agents believe.
Commuter towns such as South Queensferry could face a decline in buyersCommuter towns such as South Queensferry could face a decline in buyers
Commuter towns such as South Queensferry could face a decline in buyers

The lockdown has forced millions of people to work from home, but while mortgage lending has been frozen the knock-on impact on property is likely to see expensive commuter towns diminish in popularity in favour or rural beauty spots, it was claimed.

In rural Thornhill, Dumfries and Galloway, a four-bed home with nine acres of land is on the market with offers starting at £400,0000 - compared to a five-bedroom home in a commuter town in Madderty, Crieff, Perthshire, with offers starting at £600,000 and six acres of land.

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David Corrie, from property consultancy Galbraith, believes the pandemic will prompt prospective homeowners to reevaluate their priorities in terms of work and family life.

He has already taken enquiries from people thinking of moving across the border to look after elderly relatives, once life returns to normal.

Mr Corrie said: "It's not going to be an immediate rush but more and more people are going to identify that they have the ability to do it now.

"Coronavirus has forced us to make changes we all had excuses for before.

"It will change the way we live and work.

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"You can now live in a rural part of Scotland and log into team meetings with people from London, Manchester or Hong Kong.

"I know people are already doing it.

"Up until now, firms have had a reluctance to allow people to work from home but now the demand might force firms to do it.

"It's another way of working the economy.

"A five to six bedroom house with a big garden and a few acres can cost £300,000 to £350,000, whereas in a commuter belt that'd be nearer half a million.

"You'd be saving around 20 to 30 per cent - that's a lot.

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"People are now able to buy for a lower average percentage and put some money in the bank."

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The dad-of-two, who lives on a farm in Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway, said many families are finding working from home and looking after young children to be 'like the school holidays'.

He said he expects younger generations, including young professionals and families, will opt to buy property in the countryside, instead of retirees who tend to make up the majority of customers.

Mr Corrie, 40, said: "People see five or ten acres and think 'what do we do with it?'.

"I've got two kids under six and broadly we're not seeing anything different about our own lives.

"It's just like it would be during the school holidays.

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"The lifestyle that can afford you compared to commuter towns which are quite compact and populated in their own right - you can move around a lot easier.

"The people I sell to tend to be 50-plus, but I'd love to see more people in my generation and around their 30s.

"The tide may be turning.

"We find people who ask us if we have a home with a study or an office for work.

"Usually it's people who're returning to run a family business like a farm, but why not an embroidery business where they can have their machinery and run their business online."

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And he said families were increasingly wanting to live closer together, since the pandemic began.

Mr Corrie said: We had an enquiry of a woman from the north of England who wanted to move up to south west Scotland and live with her elderly mother.

"We're getting that more often where people ask if homes can be split in two.

"Last Easter from our Perth office they had 15 enquiries and this year they had 25."

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