Property: Keeping up with the downsizers

Creating the right product for Edinburgh buyers looking to simplify their lives in the city can keep the Capital market moving, finds Kirsty McLuckie

Exteriors and interiors at AMA Homes' Torwood House development in Corstorphine – designed with downsizers in mind

Figures released this week position Edinburgh as the top place in Scotland for people downsizing their properties.

Research from website Comparemymove has calculated that the Capital’s high property prices mean that, on average, those moving to a smaller home release £133,492 per bedroom.

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It puts the city fifth on the UK list, after London, Brighton and Hove, Stoke-on-Trent and Bristol.

Downsizers are key to movement in any market and this year, when first-time buyers are being stymied by lack of affordable mortgages and the withdrawal of the Scottish Government’s assistance schemes, those moving from larger to smaller homes have become a major driver in overall sales.

The mid-market is also still sluggish as many employees remain on furlough or face uncertainty over their working future.

A lack of homes in the £1 million-plus bracket sees many of the best properties in the Capital sold within days of hitting the market – to cash-rich buyers.

For downsizers, it makes for a good time to market their properties, but a lack of suitable homes to buy will mean a degree of competition.

Steven Currie of agents Murray & Currie, says: “The pandemic has allowed buyers to review their lifestyle, and Edinburgh has come out on top of many peoples’ lists to reset and refresh their lives.

“We are seeing buyers coming from Hong Kong, London and Aberdeen, and they are demanding a high standard of accommodation.

“The domestic Edinburgh buyer moving internally is also a key contributor. Many who have lived in their Georgian or Victorian house for decades are [attracted] by a new way of life.”

Location is important to this type of buyer, with many wanting to stay in areas of the city where they have lived previously, without having to spend money on detached houses that are the mainstay of the leafy boroughs. Converting older homes to offer apartment living or securing planning permission for a new-build property in these areas gives the market what it wants.

AMA Homes has become something of a specialist in providing properties aimed at downsizers. The developer’s latest offering, Torwood House on Corstorphine Road, Murrayfield, is a case in point.

Started in May last year, the development includes two contemporary pavilion blocks which will provide 29 luxury two and three-bedroomed apartments, while an existing Victorian house, previously a nursing home, will be restored and remodelled to form two four- and five-bedroomed homes. The houses have just been released to the market at a guide price starting at £1.85m. A lodge and coach house will create a further homes. Prices for the apartments start at £720,000.

Behnam Afshar, director of AMA Homes, says that high interest in Torwood House has meant a queuing system for offers and most of the sales are likely to be off-plan.

Afshar says: “Because we have completed many projects like this before, buyers know what type of product and finishes they are getting and they can view previous projects if they wish.”

AMA Homes recently completed a similar development of 16 luxury apartments at Kinnear Road, Inverleith. Afshar says of these types of homes: “The interest is almost all [from] downsizers, primarily Edinburgh-based, but with a few from London or abroad.”

He adds that he has found Edinburgh’s downsizing market buoyant throughout the last year, because there is little choice in the areas buyers want. Afshar says: “Murrayfield and Inverleith are prime locations for those moving from £2-million homes to stay in the area.”

He agrees that the mid-market is still to recover. “From £300,000 to £600,000, mortgages are more difficult to achieve, and you can see that slowing things down. But, as the wider economy improves, so will that section of the market.”

Steven Currie, who is marketing the new development in Corstorphine for AMA Homes, says: “Torwood House offers energy efficiency without compromising luxury and is catching the eye of buyers domestically, nationally, and globally.”

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