Average Age of Homebuyers Decreasing in the Highlands
We have seen the trend in long distance moves increase during the outbreak of COVID-19. Whilst it was forecast that we would see an increase of families move from England and the Scottish Borders to the Scottish Highlands, what was less anticipated is the increase of Scottish residents moving from the Highlands further down South to the Borders and into England & Wales. Many of our clients are leaving the Highland area to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
It has been known for some time now that Scotland has the highest number of empty homes in the UK and there is a constant battle to bring these derelict homes back into use. Often, these empty houses were left by migrated families or those who have passed away with no family to deal with their estate, notwithstanding the many crofts which have empty property crumbling just a few hundred metres from the new main residences.
According to the National Records of Scotland, pre-1990s, Scotland had a negative net migration, with us seeing fewer people moving to Scotland and more people leaving to move South or oversees. More than half of the people who moved to Scotland in the past 3 years were aged 16-24, which could in part be attributed to families of adults and multiple children moving to the area, and an increase in students moving to Scotland for university.
What we are seeing in the Highlands specifically, is less university-age students and more young families migrating to our counties for a change of lifestyle. While the older generation is moving out of the remote Highland areas to be closer to family and amenities, the younger generation is moving in.
As far back as 2005, migration to Scotland was an attractive prospect for buyers as, according to an article in The Guardian, homes here cost one third less than homes in the rest of the UK. In 2020 though, Scottish Construction Now stated that Scottish homes were experiencing a price rise 5 times the growth of homes in England. These figures align with the increase in the average wages of the UK’s workforce and the number of self-employed young people seeing a 74% increase since 2016. The young buyers who are moving to the Highlands can afford to bridge this increase in property prices and are bringing business opportunities with them.
The stark difference between the Scottish property market and employment trends 16 years ago versus today will see a boost in the local economy in the Highlands. The Highlands & Islands are by no means out of the woods with our empty housing problem and lack of adequate housing in certain areas, and this is an ongoing issue that needs tackled. For our remote communities to flourish, we need access to services and amenities, and any creation of such needs to be justifiable by the Council.
The justification of implementing transport links and healthcare is directly impacted by the housing provision, and less action will be taken to improve this provision without proof of demand for homes. In turn, showing this demand from local residents also needs to be met with a steady stream of desire from migrants and the creation of jobs to keep people of working age in these remote areas. The construction of more affordable housing without employment opportunities to help residents prosper in the community is only fuelling the fire and would be deemed a reckless use of resources at this juncture. To see a heavy investment into housing provision, there must be a balance between private and affordable homes; employment opportunities and enterprise creation; and demand and supply.
More positively though, these costly implementations may now be more viable given 2021 has seen a 12% rise in demand for privately owned homes in Inverness alone. The property market in Scotland is set to thrive post-COVID and this, coupled with the migration of working young folk, means the Highlands will be able to offer much more opportunity for the younger generation to jump on the property ladder and forge a sustainable and stable life here for the future.