A briefing note, produced by The Highland Council, confirms a steep rise in house prices in many parts of the Highlands and rises above the Scottish average.
The main findings of research into house prices in the Highlands, are: -
• In 2006 the median price of a previously owned house in Highland was £136,000, an increase of £33,000 between 2004 and 2006.
• In 2006 the median price of a new house in Highland was £175,000, an increase of £50,000 between 2004 and 2006.
• Between 2004 and 2006 the prices of both previously owned and new houses rose more than in the rest of Scotland.
• There is considerable price variation within Highland, with the highest prices in the rural commuter belt to Inverness and our more remote rural areas.
• Around half of houses costing £250,000 or more in 2006 were sold to buyers from outside Highland.
The briefing note, one of regular reports produced by the Planning and Development Service and posted on the Council’s web site states that 3,921 previously-owned houses were sold on the open market in 2006. The lowest median prices were in Wick (£65,000) and the highest in the Black Isle (£185,000).
The figures show that the greatest pressure on house prices has been in the rural commuter belt to Inverness and remote rural areas, where a move is often a lifestyle choice.
New houses account for only a small proportion of the overall market with 666 sold on the open market in 2006. The lowest median price for a new house was in Thurso (£96,000) and in Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh (£269,000).
The report states: “Highland has a high proportion of house buyers from outside the region and this has been linked to price inflation. In 2006, 80% of buyers of second-hand homes in the under £100,000 price band were from within Highland, but the percentage fell to around 50% for houses costing over £250,000, with slightly more buyers from the rest of the UK than from the rest of Scotland in this band. The pattern is generally similar for new houses, but with slightly more housing in the high price bands bought by buyers from within Highland.”
Councillor Drew Hendry, Chairman of the Planning Environment and Development Committee, said:” This survey confirms that the Highlands are the place to be and that fact is very satisfying. However, there is work to do to make sure that we can accommodate those already living here as well as the “New Highlanders”.
“Housing supply and increasing the supply of affordable housing in particular is a major priority for The Highland Council’s administration. We are committed to working with our housing agency partners to deliver 500 new affordable homes throughout the Highlands this year including up to 200 new low cost home ownership homes to ensure that local people are able to buy their own homes at affordable levels. The Administration is also committed to ensure that there is sufficient land supply for 6000 new homes over the next five years and to work with the private sector to enable these houses to be built.
“Only recently, the Caithness Sutherland and Easter Ross Planning Applications and Review Committee approved plans for more than 300 houses, 84 of which will offer affordable accommodation, thanks to our condition that 25% of new developments feature affordable accommodation. The delivery of this scale of housing illustrates the continuing work of the Council to deliver land which can be readily developed for housing.”
In separate research, planning officials report that during 2005 and 2006, 70% (6,196) of those people buying a property in Highland moved from within the Highlands, while 16% (1,438) moved from the rest of Scotland; 12% (1,094) from the rest of the United Kingdom and 1% (85) from the rest of the world.
Further investigation revealed that electoral wards that are most pressured by purchases from outwith Highland are: Skye (60%); North West and Central Sutherland (58%); Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh (55%); Badenoch and Strathspey (68%) and East Sutherland and Edderton (47%).