House buyers are making offers on properties in Scotland conditional on independence being rejected in this month’s referendum, it has been disclosed.
With opinion polls showing the No side’s lead has closed to six points, solicitors reported that potential purchasers are insisting on clauses that allow them to walk away if there is a Yes vote on September 18.
Murray Beith Murray, an Edinburgh law firm, said properties in the city’s New Town worth between £1 million and £2 million were most affected as they were often bought by wealthy people moving up from London.
The Telegraph also understands that buyers in Fort William and Oban have also insisted on similar clauses. Properties in the area are popular purchases as holiday homes with well-heeled buyers from south of the Border.
Sandy Burnett, a partner specialising in residential property sales and purchases at Murray Beith Murray, said cases were becoming more common as the vote approaches.
“There are often conditions put on offers, but the new one is where it says ‘in the event of a yes vote on 18 September the purchasers can resile from the bargain’, meaning ‘walk away from the contract’,” he told the Edinburgh Evening News.
“I received one offer for a flat conditional on a no vote last week. I have spoken to other agents and it is increasing as we are getting nearer to the referendum. At the moment there is a general air of uncertainty, and no market likes uncertainty.
“In Edinburgh, the top end has been most affected – the £1 million to £2 million New Town properties which are often fuelled by London buyers or Scots coming back from London. They’ve been sitting on their hands for the last few months.”
Investors have been attracted to the property market in recent years as low interest rates have meant savings in bank accounts have produced low returns but Mr Burnett said this had slowed down as people “wait and see”.
He said the market has increasingly slowed down as the referendum date drew closer and the housing market will remain in the “doldrums” until a decision is made.
Potential buyers are also unsure what would happen to mortgages after a series of expert reports warned a separate Scotland would pay higher interest rates.
David Cameron has warned the increase would be “crippling” if Alex Salmond presses ahead with his threat not to accept a share of the UK’s national debt.