House Hunting in … Scotland



This refurbished country house, known as Duchray Castle, sits on about 80 acres of woodlands in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, about 36 miles from central Glasgow. The oldest part of the stone castle dates to the 16th century, said Chris Hall, director of rural and professional services for Rettie & Co., which has the listing. The castle has four bedrooms and four full and one half bathrooms, as well as a separate two-bedroom annex.

The main entrance is through a corner tower, which opens into a large dining room with wood floors, a fireplace and an unusual barrel-vaulted stone ceiling. The Gothic arched windows, set within alcoves, are typical of those throughout the house.

A hallway from the dining room leads to the family room, which has oak-beamed ceilings, an exposed stone wall and a fireplace. The adjoining eat-in kitchen has a flagstone floor, gas range and a farmhouse-style sink. Also on the ground floor are a utility room with laundry hookups and a study with French doors opening onto a patio.

On the second level, accessible by two winding stone staircases, is a formal great hall with beamed ceilings, oak paneling and a large stone fireplace. There are also two bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom.

The master suite and a fourth bedroom with a bathroom are on the third floor. The master suite has a fireplace, walk-in closets and a free-standing tub and rain shower.

An exterior stone archway with battlements connects the castle to the two-story annex, which has an open living room and kitchen area, two additional bedrooms and a bathroom.

Stables and a workshop are among the half-dozen outbuildings on the property. The grounds immediately around the castle include formal gardens, a tennis court, a croquet lawn and grazing areas.

The gate lodge, another two-bedroom guest residence currently used as a vacation rental, is also available for purchase, Mr. Hall said.

Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, a 50,000-acre wooded area with mountains and lakes, is part of the larger Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The nearby village of Aberfoyle, which bustles with tourists in the summer months, has a golf course, cafes, restaurants, hotels and a supermarket, Mr. Hall said. Glasgow Airport is about an hour away.


The Scottish housing market, in general, has been aided by a United Kingdom economy that is performing a little better than expected and by very low interest rates, said Ran Morgan, head of the Scottish residential department at the real estate agency Knight Frank.

“In Edinburgh, the housing market is very, very strong,” Mr. Morgan said. “And in Glasgow, it has certainly improved, as the effects of Edinburgh have rippled outward.”

The greater Glasgow market is very active, and an inventory shortage is driving up prices, with multiple offers common in the most popular areas of Glasgow, including the West End and affluent suburbs like Giffnock, Bearsden and Newton Mearns, Mr. Hall said.

During the last quarter of 2017, the average sales price was about 125,000 pounds (or $173,000), a 4.8 percent increase over that of the previous year, according to a report from the Glasgow Solicitors Property Centre, a network of real estate agencies. And in 2017, the average sales price for the year was 10 percent higher than in 2016, at 138,440 pounds (or about $192,000).

Following the 2015 adoption of a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, which put a 12 percent levy on sales of residential properties over 750,000 pounds, the high end of the market slowed, Mr. Morgan said. Luxury sales have since “improved slightly, due to the extreme lack of supply,” he added.

But while the market for country houses like Duchray Castle is stronger than it has been in recent years, Mr. Hall said, it is still below pre-recession levels: “Values aren’t growing significantly, so there’s no urgency to buy.”


These days, most buyers from outside Scotland are native Scots returning home after working in the United States, Europe or the Middle East, Mr. Hall said. Other foreign buyers include Americans and Europeans.

Sporting estates that offer thousands of acres for shooting, hunting and fishing tend to attract European buyers, particularly those from Scandinavia. One Danish billionaire has accumulated more than 200,000 acres on various properties in the Highlands, Mr. Hall said.

“You can’t really buy those estates elsewhere,” he said. “Scotland is fairly unique in having those types of properties, and allowing overseas buyers to buy them without restriction.”


There are no restrictions on foreigners buying residential property in Scotland. But the process is different from that elsewhere in the United Kingdom, in that sellers must provide prospective buyers with a report on the property’s condition and market value, said Richard Donnell, director of research for Hometrack, a market analytics firm. And the listing price may be considered a starting point, with sellers expecting “offers over” or “offers around” that amount.

Buyers must hire a lawyer to draw up a purchase offer and negotiate a contract. Legal fees typically range from about 3,500 to 15,000 pounds, Mr. Morgan said.

The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax applies to any residential sale over 145,000 pounds (or about $200,000), with rates ranging from 2 to 12 percent, based on the sales price. And an additional 3 percent is charged if the property is a second home, Mr. Morgan said.


City of Glasgow:

Scottish tourism:

Queen Elizabeth Forest Park:


English, Gaelic, Scots; pound sterling (1 pound = $1.38)


The annual council tax on this property is about 2,800 pounds ($3,889), Mr. Hall said.


Chris Hall, Rettie & Co., 011-44-131-624-4074;


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