As yet, there have been no new offerings of a driven grouse moor to the open market north of the border in 2014. Whilst it has always been recognised as being an extremely small market in Scotland, pursued by only a handful of buyers in any one year, there has been a sense that the impending Referendum would dissuade any seller from coming to the open market prior to September 2014. A significant source of buyers in recent years has emanated from the City but now, unlike some buyers from outwith the UK, they have become wary; the unknown political future of Scotland concerns them. It is no surprise that owners have held back, it would be churlish to offer a grouse moor in the present political scenario with a diminished audience.
The international buyer, however, does not appear to be dissuaded from investing in Scotland with over 70% of viewers for mixed sporting estates handled by Savills Edinburgh office in the past 18 months originating from Europe.
Properties relatively accessible from Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen airports and offering good quality, well managed sport will always find favour and those with potential can appeal to the younger buyer with ambitions to revive a moor with a modest grouse stock. Those generating an income stream from renewables (particularly hydro) are deemed particularly “sexy/desirable” as the revenue potentially goes a long way to offsetting the costs of running a well managed moor.
As has been proven since the downturn in the economy only those properties which can offer high amenity value with uncompromised privacy and without any additional burdens or negatives will continue to command a premium in the present climate.
What little evidence there is would support values for walked-up grouse at £2000 - £2500 per brace and £4000 - £5000 per brace for driven.
The recent publication of the Land Reform Review might further stimulate interest in leasing a grouse moor in favour of purchasing. In the past year there have been a number of grouse moors offered to let (Leadhills, Seafield and Strathspey Estates) possibly setting a trend that will continue for the next few years. Leasing can be a marvellous opportunity for those that do not want to risk the capital investment as well as giving those without prior experience of running a moor the opportunity to “try before you buy”. Many grouse moor buyers are also prepared to consider leasing; they are often no stranger to the concept having been used to renting sport every year, and a lease may give access to a moor that an owner is not interested in selling. Once again, quality or potential would continue to attract demand whatever the economic and political situation.
A “yes” vote and the threat of the implication of some of the Land Reform Review Group proposals in Scotland would potentially encourage the sporting enthusiast to look south of the border and would be to the detriment of the local rural economies which are extremely dependant in so many ways on the wealth injected into our glorious Scottish grouse moors.