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Interest in moving to isles could increase after pandemic, suggests estate agent


INTEREST from people in moving to areas like Shetland could increase after the coronavirus situation has calmed, according to a local estate agent.

Solicitor Neil Risk said he believed folk might be encouraged to “look at alternatives” and consider living in areas with less “constraints”.

Figures recently showed that searches for Shetland properties on Rightmove had increased by 131 per cent compared to last year, while there was a general upturn for locations north of the central belt.

“One thing we might see is people wanting to move to places like Shetland, because suddenly they realise that maybe the weather isn’t brilliant but being able to live your life and not be constrained to the extent that people are constrained elsewhere,” Risk said.

“I think the market may be fairly positive from that point of view.”

The local property market is effectively at a standstill with estate agents and prospective buyers in Scotland unable to view houses due to social distancing restrictions.

In England guidance was updated this week to allow people to move home and for viewings to be carried out in person with restrictions.

There are still one or two transactions ongoing where there are private deals and where the finance is in place, Risk said, but lenders have suspended processing loan applications for the time being.

He said some local sellers have been holding their own virtual viewings to allow people a closer look at their property.

“I believe some sellers have done some video viewings which they’ve put online so that somebody who’s interested can view a property,” Risk said.

“Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of the technology could do that, so that’s certainly beneficial.”

With properties largely not going on sale during the pandemic, there is the potential for an upsurge in listings when restrictions ease if there is a backlog of people wanting to sell.

“I would say the last half of last year was reasonably quiet on the property front, because I think Shetland has seen a bit of a downturn in the economy generally, and concerns about jobs maybe in the oil sector, and maybe the construction sector to an extent,” Risk said.

“I think there will be a number of properties that will be coming up for sale, because this is traditionally the busy time of the year that we’re coming into.

“Some of it may be sales on the part of folk who were planning to sell anyway, but were prevented from doing so. And some may be folk who out of necessity have to sell, which would be very sad. We don’t know yet, and we don’t know how long it will be before the lockdown is lifted.”

Risk’s Lerwick-based firm has furloughed five members of staff, with others working from home during the pandemic.

He believes that Shetland would be well placed, compared to more urban areas, for property viewings to take place in the future where people are not in close contact.

“I think it will certainly pick up to a point where it was before the lockdown hopefully reasonably quickly,” Risk said.