Revealed: The overseas buyers snapping up a piece of Scotland

More than 24,000 properties in Scotland are owned by those living overseas with Americans accounting for the largest group of buyers from abroad.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 4th April 2019, 3:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 3:23 pm
Properties in Edinburgh's EH3 postcode, which includes Heriot Row in the New Town, were among the most desirable amongst international buyers. PIC: Contributed.
Properties in Edinburgh's EH3 postcode, which includes Heriot Row in the New Town, were among the most desirable amongst international buyers. PIC: Contributed.

Those registered as living in Hong Kong and United Arab Emirates are the next biggest overseas owners of property in Scotland, research from Registers of Scotland has found.

They are followed by those from Australia, Ireland, Singapore and France.

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Vast swathes of land around Glasgow Airport, which is used for car parking and storage, are registered to overseas owners. PIC: Creative Commons/Jim Smillie.

Property in Edinburgh and Glasgow accounted for two thirds of that owned by those from outwith the UK.

In Edinburgh, overseas buyers were most likely to own property in the EH3 postcode which covers New Town, West End, Tollcross and Fountainbridge with homes in EH9, which covers Marchmont and Grange, also of appeal.

One estate agent said 16 per cent of all properties it sold in the capital last year went to overseas buyers.

Renfrewshire is the third most popular area for overseas buyers and long-term lease holders - primarily due to the patchwork of land around Glasgow Airport which is used for storage and car parking space.

At least 211 properties in St Andrews are registered to overseas owners. PIC: Creative Commons/Peter Gordon.

Around one in 10 titles owned or least from outwith the UK (11.9 per cent or 2,881 titles) are in Renfrewshire.

Fife is the fourth most popular area among international buyers with 1,334 properties registered to individuals abroad. Of these, 211 are in St Andrews.

Aberdeen and Highland were the next most popular areas among buyers from overseas.

Ben Fox, Savills Head of Edinburgh Residents, said Scotland was the most searched for term on the company website with more people looking for property north of the border than in London.

Scenery, value for money and ‘exceptional quality of life’ were all highly regarded by international buyers, Mr Fox said.

Last year, 16 per cent of buyers of Edinburgh properties were from outside the UK, he added.

Mr Fox said: “Accessibility and value for money are key drivers and an increasing number of direct international flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow airports has opened up the rest of the world.

“The diaspora effect is very strong in Scotland: many of our buyers are returning ex-pats who are investing back home.

“This international trend has been supported by the exchange rate, value for money, and comparative affordability compared to London and the South of England.”

Registers of Scotland analysed the titles of around 1.75m properties held on the Land Register, which records legal property owners in Scotland.

The Land Register does not include information on roughly 1 million other addresses in Scotland. Some of these are held on the Register of Sasines, which dates back more than 400 years and holds information on deeds held, bought and inherited over time.

The analysis found that 104,257 (6 per cent) of properties in Scotland on the Land Register were registered to an address outside Scotland.

Of these, the majority - 74,564 - were registered to an address in England (4.3 per cent).

Just over 24,100 properties (1.4 per cent) are registered outwith the United Kingdom.

The research also looks at around 4,300 properties owned by companies and other legal entities which own property across Scotland.

Companies registered in Isles of Man, Jersey, British Virgin Islands and Guernsey account for 1,955 of these.

Andy Wightman, Green MSP and land reform campaigner, said more information was needed on who owns what in Scotland.

He said: “It is in the public interest to known who owns how much of Scotland, but these figures don’t tell you that. We don’t know how much of Scotland is represented here and we don’t know what the properties are.”

“People have got questions around this and the data is available to potentially answer those questions. All the data should be made available to the public so they can have their questions answered.”