January 31, 2014 6:20 pm

UK property: Perthshire’s lochs and charm

Loch Tay©Alamy

Loch Tay is a scenic spot popular with second-home owners

For a landlocked area sandwiched between Scotland’s populous central belt and the country’s celebrated Highlands, Perthshire hasn’t done badly. In recent years, the region has asserted itself on the world stage, largely thanks to the upmarket Gleneagles hotel and golf resort.

In 2005 the south Perthshire venue hosted the G8 summit of world leaders – an event the UK government had previously staged only in London and Birmingham. In September Gleneagles will pull off another international coup when the 40th Ryder Cup is played there. The occasion will mark only the second time the prestigious golf tournament has come to Scotland and is projected to boost the local economy by £100m.

Gleneagles’ ability to attract the global and sporting elites is not restricted to major events. Local homeowners include former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomery, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and several prominent Scottish business people, including housebuilder Stewart Milne.

“It’s an exclusive area and there’s an aspirational element, in the Scottish context, to living at Gleneagles,” says Chris Hall, director at Scottish estate agents Rettie & Co. “It is a statement of your success.”

Perthshire, Scotland map

According to Knight Frank, homes in and around Gleneagles village, which includes two of Scotland’s most expensive streets, Caledonian Crescent and The Queen’s Crescent, consistently sell for 20 per cent above the Scottish average. Yet Perthshire’s prime market is not restricted to the golfing enclave. As one of Scotland’s largest counties with lowlands in the south and mountains, glens and lochs to the north, the region also attracts buyers drawn to quintessential Scottish scenery and rural pursuits.

“Perthshire has got a greater mix of amenities than, for example, Inverness-shire,” says Hall. “If it’s not a day to go shooting, fishing or stalking, it’s maybe half an hour to Perth, which has a good range of shops and attractions.”

Residents of Gleneagles have even less distance to travel. As well as three championship golf courses, the resort has a spa and gym, and offers riding, shooting and falconry tuition and even gun-dog training. The area also has a good selection of independent schools, such as Glenalmond College near Perth and Morrison’s Academy in Crieff.

Perth and Kinross house prices chart

Edinburgh and Glasgow airports can be reached within an hour or two by road or rail, while Dundee airport is closer still, with daily flights to London City. Indeed, more than 10 per cent of residents in Perthshire are from England and Wales, according to 2011 census data, a greater share than in Scotland as a whole. Jamie Macnab, country house director at Savills Scotland, reports keen interest from south of the border. “Those in the market for country houses tend to be London buyers, quite often with a Scottish connection,” he says.

After a period in the doldrums, the market is now beginning to move and prices are stabilising as supply and demand rebalance. Sales of prime properties in Perthshire (priced above £400,000) rose 14 per cent between November 2012 and October 2013, according to Savills. Meanwhile, Rettie & Co says the number of properties sold in Perthshire increased by a quarter during the past 12 months, although average prices have fallen 4 per cent. “It’s still a buyers’ market,” says Clare Zank, an associate in Strutt & Parker’s Edinburgh office. However, there is an “undersupply of lovely big homes with land”.

The prices fetched for such properties “varies enormously”, says Knight Frank partner Michael Jones. “To use the old phrase, it’s location, location, location. However, in general terms a decent five-bedroom, big farmhouse with around four or five acres of land would be around £750,000. If you have £1.25m to spend, you’re looking at something much more significant.”

The Old Manse of Blair

The Old Manse of Blair, priced £1.28m

The Old Manse of Blair, nine miles from the town of Pitlochry, falls into the latter category. Strutt & Parker is seeking offers of more than £1.28m for the six-bedroom, five-bathroom former manse, which was enlarged in the Georgian era. The property’s 9.5 acres of grounds include stables and a three-bedroom cottage.

To the southwest, the small town of Aberfeldy and scenic Loch Tay are popular with second-home owners and water sports fans. Zank is marketing Tigh na Eglaise, a five-bedroom stone house overlooking Loch Tay for £395,000. The refurbished Victorian property is conveniently located for fishing on the Tay and Lyon rivers and for shooting and stalking on local estates. Glenshee ski resort is less than two hours away by car.

Back in Gleneagles the market caters to more contemporary tastes. “It’s quite flash to have a multimillion property near Gleneagles,” says Knight Frank’s Jones. “Over the last six or seven years there have been quite a number of large new houses built there with huge investment gone into them – probably more investment than they are currently worth.”

Several properties are available on The Queen’s Crescent, including Queen’s View, a five-bedroom, six-bathroom property on sale with Rettie & Co for £2.45m. Mod cons include a sauna and multimedia room. Agents hope the area will benefit from “the Ryder Cup effect”, with the seller even throwing in two tickets to the (sold out) golfing tournament.

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Buying guide

● Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles is the only restaurant in Scotland with two Michelin stars

● Direct trains from London to Perth take six hours; flights from London City to Dundee take 95 minutes

● There are 10 independent schools in Perth and Kinross

● A total of 335 crimes per 10,000 people were committed in Perth and Kinross in 2012-13, a third less than the Scottish average

What you can buy for ...

£595,000: A renovated 18th-century farmhouse with four bedrooms, a mile from the village of Fortingall

£1.1m: A 10-bedroom Victorian lodge set in four acres above Loch Tay

£2m: A 1960s four-bedroom house in Caledonian Crescent overlooking the Gleneagles practice ground

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