This city knows how to party: why now’s a good time to buy property in Edinburgh
Scotland’s culturally vibrant capital knows how to party. Along with its legendary three-day Hogmanay new year celebration, Edinburgh hosts 12 annual festivals. It is the UK’s second most visited city after London, with four million international tourists a year.
Edinburgh is also second only to London among British cities with the most FTSE 100 companies and has a strong reputation for tech start-ups.
Yet it is compact and walkable, more of a town in size and population, with swift escape routes to breathtaking countryside and coastlines.
“Edinburgh is a big city in a small skin,” comments Ben Fox, head of residential at Savills Edinburgh.
“It’s established, a thriving financial centre, not at all provincial and an easy place to live and work. The four universities bring an international audience, too.”
About 42 per cent of students at Edinburgh University stay in the city after graduation, lured by this winning lifestyle and predictions of 3,200 new professional, science and tech jobs being created over the next five years.
New research from international relocation firm MovHub.com this year placed Edinburgh top of 32 cities worldwide for affordability and lifestyle for cash-strapped millennials.
LIVE IN AN EDINBURGH VILLAGE
Edinburgh prime property prices rose 5.3 per cent last year, peaking in the Georgian architecture and garden squares of New Town.
Homes in Moray Place range from two-bedroom flats for £600,000 to full townhouses at more than £3 million. A three-bedroom garden-level flat in Carlton Terrace is for sale at offers over £575,000 with Savills.
“Buy as centrally as possible for long-term capital growth,” advises Fox. “The historic centre can’t be replicated and the market’s biggest issue is low stock, down 12 per cent year on year.”
Scottish pride: view down historic Royal Mile in Edinburgh Old Town (Alamy)
Like London, Edinburgh has a number of “villages” where independent butchers, fishmongers and boutiques thrive.
Among the most popular are Stockbridge, where a first-floor 1,800sq ft apartment would cost £600,000, and Morningside, a favourite for its Waitrose, Dominion Cinema and acclaimed state and independent schools.
At Newbattle Terrace in Morningside, Savills is selling 25 new two- and three-bedroom apartments priced from £499,995.
Nearby, a well-sized and vibrantly decorated one-bedroom apartment in an older stone house with communal gardens is £210,000 through Warners.
Offers over £575,000: for a three-bedroom flat in famous Carlton Terrace. Through Savills
Fox also advises investors to look at the east side of the city — which will benefit from a substantial St James development — and the west side around Haymarket, where future development is planned.
“Edinburgh hasn’t seen major regeneration for two generations but we are certainly starting to see it now,” he adds.
NEW BUILD ON THE WATERFRONT
A proposed tram extension towards Leith is focusing attention on the industrial waterfront from Newhaven and Granton where 6,000 new homes are planned.
Large apartment blocks that stalled in the 2008 recession are now back on track with average prices of £200,000 for one- and two-bedroom homes.
“Gyms and supermarkets are opening, the tram extension is coming and there are good bus links to the city centre,” says Natalie Simpson, head of new homes at Savills. “There are lovely waterfront walks and cycle paths to Cramond.”
In the Upper Strand development, 55 Degrees North offers three- and four-bedroom open-plan townhouses overlooking the waterfront with garages, large windows, generous terraces and landscaped gardens, near the shops and restaurants of the Ocean Terminal centre.
Prices from £345,000, with one- and two-bedroom flats coming to market later this year.
WHAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE THERE IN SCOTLAND?
The Land and Building Transaction Tax — LBTT — is Scotland’s stamp duty, introduced in 2015.
Rates are applied on a sliding scale, from no tax on properties under £145,000 up to 12 per cent on properties over £750,000.
The LBTT is undoubtedly adding to Edinburgh’s problem of low stock, says Ben Fox of Savills: “We’ve seen a 12 per cent drop in supply over last year’s levels. People are not moving as often as a result of the costs.”
A HOTEL FOR HOUSE-HUNTING
Edinburgh plans to outpace any other British city to increase its number of hotel rooms by 17.5 per cent by 2020.
Leading the charge is the newly and beautifully renovated Principal Hotel Charlotte Square which opened last September across seven prime New Town townhouses, formerly home to the city’s oldest hotel, The Roxburghe.
Renovated: Principal Charlotte Square
Public rooms are both elegant and cosy, a welcoming mix of velvets and linen-edged curtains in jewel colours.
The airy green and cream Garden Room restaurant is lit by super-size suspended lamp shades.
The 199 comfortable rooms built in a square around a central courtyard include just the right amount of tartan, soft throws and tuck boxes filled with complimentary treats.
The Principal is an ideal contemporary city centre hotel in a Unesco World Heritage site and seems popular with locals and visitors.
The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square: room and breakfast from £169 per night.