Property buyers turning to Inverness and the Shetland Isles during COVID-19 lockdown

Searches for rural and northern Scotland skyrocket as those moving seek an escape

The Shetland Islands and Inverness have seen huge jumps in searches for property

As lockdown is extended for another three weeks by the Scottish Government, those who are considering moving house are turning to the more rural and picturesque parts of Scotland for a potential escape.

Rather than looking for their quick – and currently illegal – holiday in the north of the country, those searching for property to buy are shifting away from the urban centres and towards rural Scotland.

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Data from property website Rightmove shows a dramatic leap in interest in property north of the central belt and outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow when compared with April last year.

Inverness has seen searches rise by 167 per cent

Topping the list in the UK is Inverness which has seen an increase of 167 per cent in searches, followed by the more remote Shetland Islands, up 131 per cent.

Of those seeing increases in Scotland, Ullapool has seen searches jump by 30 per cent, Orkney by 19 per cent, with the area around Loch Lomond, Pitlochry and Fort William all seeing a jump of between 14 and nine per cent.

These rises are even more significant when compared to last year due to Rightmove seeing an overall drop of 40 per cent in web traffic at the start of lockdown.

Edinburgh and Glasgow have dropped around 10 per cent in searches, but the property website expects them to recover “quickly” as more visitors return to looking for property.

The Shetland Islands have seen searches rise by 131 per cent

Duncan Chisholm, director of estate agents Munro & Noble in Inverness, said the city has become more appealing and more affordable compared to other Scottish cities in recent years.

He said: “The city has been developing quickly in recent years and so the fact that it’s still relatively affordable compared to other cities around the UK makes it an appealing place to live.

“Not to mention the amazing scenery, beaches and hillsides that we’re fortunate to have on our doorstep. It’s a close knit community, something I imagine is quite unique for a city.

“It’s like we have the best of both worlds as we have the amenities of a city but the feel of a village. In usual circumstances I could be in the middle of the beautiful Highlands with nobody about and then in 20 minutes I can be sitting at my desk in the city.”

Other areas in the UK including Belgravia, Mayfair and Sandbanks have seen high increases, potentially as people fantasy shop for their dream house.

Rightmove’s housing market analyst Miles Shipside comments: “People often use Rightmove to daydream, so it’s not surprising to see some of the search areas on the up being the most expensive in the UK.

“The beautiful areas in the far north in the list are likely a mixture of people dreaming of living somewhere more remote, and those seriously thinking about changing their lifestyle after lockdown.

“Locations in Scotland feature three times in the list, and with property prices comparatively affordable compared to others in the top ten, it’s highly likely that properties in these areas will find buyers more quickly when restrictions are eased.

“As well as the UK public expressing their passion for property, there seems to be a growing desire to find a quiet place to live.”

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