Scotland is one of the most promising places to pursue real estate development and acquisitions, but is buying land in the country legit?
Yes, buying land in Scotland is legit given that the country does not have any laws prohibiting international investors from purchasing and developing land. However, buyers should be wary of Highland Titles, as these are souvenir plots that cannot be developed or used in any practical way.
After extensively researching real estate laws in Scotland, I have gathered enough information to determine if buying land in the country is legit. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the legality of purchasing property in Scotland to help you make an informed real estate acquisition.
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Is Buying Land in Scotland Legit?
Buying land in Scotland is 100% legit. Scotland is considered to be one of the easiest places in the world to purchase real estate given how relaxed their laws are towards outside investors.
Scotland has a stable and thriving economy with a relatively uncompetitive real estate market compared to many hot spots in the world, making it an ideal place to purchase a plot.
The natural beauty of the country combined with rich Scottish culture and affordable property prices is a calling for many aspiring landowners to consider Scotland for their next real estate acquisition.
Can You Buy Land in Scotland as a Foreigner?
Yes, foreigners can legally buy land in Scotland. This has been a major selling point for a lot of people to view Scotland as a promising nation to pursue business ventures and developments, as well as buying private homes.
As a nation with very relaxed real estate laws, Scotland is one of the most straightforward countries for buying land overseas as a foreigner. The country is filled with attractive parcels at a fraction of the price of competitive locations within the United States.
You can essentially buy your dream holiday home in Scotland at a much cheaper price than in most western countries. However, anyone considering Scotland as a location to buy land should be aware of laws relating to residency and citizenship.
Does Buying Land in Scotland Get You Residency or Citizenship?
No, you will not be given citizenship or residency when you buy land in Scotland as a foreigner. Just because you own a property in Scotland does not mean that you are given special perks as far as immigration.
Becoming a resident in Scotland needs to be approached by following the steps of the legal process. US citizens are given a very reasonable 6 months per entry in the country when visiting Scotland, without needing to apply for a visa.
If you wish to stay in the UK longer than this, you will need to apply for a visa beforehand. With that said, the path to obtaining Scottish citizenship is considerably longer and more complicated.
Are Highland Titles in Scotland Legit?
Buying land in Scotland is often met with a bit of skepticism. There are a lot of rumors going around claiming that buying land in Scotland is not legit and is actually a scam.
While this does not apply to official land purchases that were handled properly with all legal paperwork and procedures being followed, it may be somewhat true for Highland Titles. A Highland Title in Scotland is essentially a souvenir plot of Scottish land.
These souvenir plots of land will advertise properties in the Scottish Highlands and will “guarantee” you an official title and even the ability to become a Scottish Lord. While these may not be completely fake Scottish titles, they are definitely not 100% legit.
What Are Highland Titles in Scotland?
When you own property in Scotland long enough, you can be given a courtesy title also known as Lordship. These established titles are a tradition in Scottish roots and they still apply to land ownership to this day.
However, the Scottish government has very specific guidelines for this, and virtually all new buyers and outside investors will not qualify for Lordship/Lairdship.
Although these are not fake land purchases, the parcel that you buy is essentially useless given that it can’t be developed in any way. These properties are generally located in nature reserves and will have flashy titles such as “Highland Titles Nature Reserve” or “Highland Titles Limited” overseen by “Lord Lyon King”, or something along these lines.
Don’t be fooled. While these are not necessarily scams, they are pretty much useless plots that cannot be developed or used in any practical real estate sense.
How Much Does Land Cost in Scotland?
Scotland has some very competitive prices for land, but the cost of real estate can greatly fluctuate depending on the location. Parcels located in attractive areas, especially in urban hotspots such as Edinburgh can cost considerably more than rural land in the countryside.
On average, you can expect to pay at least $5,000 to $8,500 per acre for land in Scotland. These are some of the most affordable parcels that you will come across and they are generally located in rural parts of the country or on agricultural land.
With that said, urban properties that have developed homes will cost considerably more than this. The prime real estate hot spot of Scotland is Edinburgh, which features some of the country’s most luxurious homes and upscale developments.
Buying a home in a place like Edinburgh will likely cost you around $350,000 for a modest property. However, prices for real estate in Edinburgh can be much more expensive than this if you have a higher standard of living.
How to Buy Land in Scotland
To welcome international investors and visitors to the country, Scotland has made the process of buying land quite simple. Compared to many nations around the world, there are not very many legal loopholes that you need to watch out for that could result in faulty land acquisitions.
I will say that if you are looking for a legitimate property in Scotland, you should be aware of Highland Titles. As mentioned above, these are merely souvenir plots that most people use as gifts for friends and family, not parcels that you can develop.
So long as the parcel is legit and the paperwork is done right, Scotland is a very easy place to buy land. This is the process for buying real estate in Scotland.
1. Finding Land
The first thing you need to do is locate a plot of land that meets your needs and real estate goals. You need to consider what kind of property you want to own as this will help you narrow down your search options.
Are you looking for a developed home in an urban environment? Or would you prefer undeveloped land in the countryside? Scotland has plenty of both and everything in between.
There are a handful of different approaches for finding land in Scotland, and you may find that one method suits you better than the other.
Online Real Estate Listings
Whenever I search for land, I generally like to start online. This is a great way to get a feel for the real estate market in a specific region and you can compare property prices and specs with just a few simple clicks and searches.
There are a lot of different types of parcels available on the Scottish market, with some online searches geared more towards rural properties vs urban ones. These are some of the most reliable websites for online real estate options in Scotland:
If you have an idea of the type of property that you want to buy, use the search filters on each site to find listings that are aligned with your goals and interests. I recommend shortlisting the best candidates and writing down all contact information for landowners so that you can reach out to them for an inspection.
When dealing with property acquisitions abroad, it can be advantageous to work with an industry pro who understands the local market better than you. With that said, opting to hire a real estate agent to assist you with your land purchase may make the process a lot smoother.
Real estate agents in Scotland are experienced and professional. Their expertise can be invaluable in helping you find the right property at the best price possible.
There are plenty of reputable estate agents throughout the country. If you have a specific region in mind, I would suggest reaching out to an agency in that area to get information and quotes.
Solicitors Property Center
Alternatively to working with estate agents, you can rely on the Solicitors Property Center (SPC).
The SPC is essentially a collective that works to help real estate transactions in Scotland. They have detailed information about various properties throughout the country and can help you track down the perfect parcel.
You can often count on private developers to give you access to exclusive deals on land. Given their level of involvement in local real estate, private developers can potentially showcase plots of land that are not yet listed on the market.
Reaching out to private developers can be a great strategy for finding unique properties at competitive prices. With that said, there is no certainty that a private developer will be able to assist you with your search.
My advice is to consider online sources and real estate agents as your first priority, and then reach out to private developers once you’ve crossed off the other options.
2. Property Inspection and Appraisal
After you have found some parcels that are up to your standards and meet your requirements, you need to schedule an inspection with the current landowner. You should be thorough with your property inspections and leave no stone unturned.
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when assessing real estate and I recommend thoroughly inspecting each piece of land before making any serious commitments.
Once you’ve shortlisted the best candidates and are feeling confident about specific properties, it would be wise to hire an appraiser to confirm the value of the land. If you are getting a loan on the property, this may be a requirement from your bank.
An appraiser will inspect the land and verify its value. This is a key component of any property acquisition, as you want to be certain that the land’s value is authentic. If the appraiser determines the land is overvalued, you can use this as a bargaining chip at the negotiation table.
3. Planning Permission
One of the biggest obstacles that you may face when buying land in Scotland is dealing with planning permission. This is essentially the building plans for your development in relation to the local zoning laws of the area. I recommend confirming the planning permission of the property before making an offer.
Much like in many countries around the world, you need to get permission from the local building authority in Scotland before you are allowed to pursue your development. The requirements to build a home in the countryside are generally quite relaxed, and you may not even need to adhere to any development guidelines.
However, planning permissions can become much more strenuous and tedious in urban areas. Scottish cities have retained a traditional and historic aesthetic, which is something that locals value and want to retain. Don’t be surprised to find strict guidelines for how homes need to be built and maintained in many parts of the country.
If the design for your development is aligned with the planning permissions that are in place, you will have the go-ahead to start building. However, if you want to alter plans or pursue a completely different type of development, you will need to apply for new planning at the local building authority.
4. Making an Offer
Once you’ve found your perfect piece of Scottish land, you can reach out to the property owner to discuss the terms of the acquisition and make an offer.
If you have an appraiser verify the value of the land, you can use their insights and expertise as your base figure for setting an offer price. Make an offer to the landowner and negotiate as needed until both parties agree on a price.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling