29th August 2018

Are wealthy overseas buyers the future for historic Scottish estates?

­As you might imagine, a company with 112+ years trading history will have witnessed lots of changes; technology, building techniques, materials and the labour market have changed beyond recognition since Taylor & Fraser opened its doors for business. However, is change always for the best?

Taylor & Fraser have long been involved in the restoration and refurbishment of country houses and estates and one of the main changes we’ve witnessed working in this sector is, the client.

Ownership of large Scottish estates was at one time the domain of aristocratic Scottish families who used Scotland’s rugged terrain for lavish sporting pursuits, but now it is more common to find estate owners coming from all over the world.

The allure of the Scottish Highland isn’t on the wane, but the cash required to own and run them has made it prohibitive for many of the traditional Scottish landowners.

More than half of Scotland is now owned by fewer than 500 people, and only a small percentage of these are Scots. British land-owning aristocratic families are on the decrease, enabling investment opportunities from overseas.

Scottish estates are highly desirable, with large tracts of land and very private residences, something which can be difficult to find elsewhere in the UK and Europe. Wealthy new buyers are bringing fresh investment and are contributing to the economy in new ways, providing a positive alternative to Scottish landlords who have often allowed the buildings erode into derelict states.

So, it is the wealthy overseas buyers who are not only buying these estates, but they are also making major contributions to restore and maintain these estates whilst also contributing to the local economy.

These new overseas buyers look at these estates from a different perspective. Whilst respecting the history and maintaining the integrity of the buildings and the land, they are making major investments to refurbish and redevelop these buildings to their rightful state. These buyers are helping to keep valuable historic buildings in good repair by spending more time and money on them than ever before, again resulting in a positive impact on the local and Scottish economy.

Many Scottish estates are now being used for business purposes, being converted into hotels, event venues and leisure facilities. Buildings that once lay empty for months, perhaps even years at a time, are now full of people who are willing to spend money in and around the local area. Not only does tourism in these areas receive a significant boost, but jobs are also created, and local businesses reap the benefits of these revitalised estates.

Refurbished estates also tend to run more efficiently as new owners invest in modern technology to keep them ahead of today’s energy and environmental standards. Updating historic buildings with Biomass boilers and modern electrical systems can significantly increase efficiency and reduce the ongoing cost of running the building.

Taylor & Fraser has years of experience in refurbishing historic buildings and repurposing them for today’s market; we understand how these buildings were created, how they were used, and more importantly, how they will be used in the future.  Our innovative solutions, flexibility and proactive management, combined with over 112 years of experience, positions us as leaders in the refurbishment of historic buildings.

We are familiar with the challenges these projects can pose and the need for flexibility to respond to the unexpected. We have worked on the Grade A Listed Dumfries House, Inverary Castle, Crawforton House and Hopetoun House, to name just a few of our large country house and estate projects. Throughout all of our work on historic buildings, we maintain our strict conservation approach and apply our thorough understanding for the need to respect the history whilst integrating modern solutions.

We welcome the new buyers and work closely with overseas, and British, landowners to return buildings to their former splendour and whilst we appreciate the origins of these fabulous estates, we value the contribution made by overseas investors to maintain the legacy of the ‘Scottish Estate’.

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