Nairn property still relatively cheap

July 14, 2009 · Filed Under Nairn, Property 

Bookmark and Share


The Gurn draws attention to a study by the RBS that lists Nairn as the third most expensive seaside town to live in Scotland.

I just wanted to try and dispel the myth that Nairn is particularly expensive to live. :)

Comparing Nairn House Prices

I keep a regular eye on the Highland property market – I like to see how Nairn house prices are growing, and how they compare with the rest of the Highlands. And by comparison, Nairn is still relatively cheap.

The yardstick I use is the four-bedroom property style I live in off Lochloy Road.

Currently, these are marketed at around £230,000, depending on minor differences such as garage and garden size – and they are struggling to sell at this price.

Estate Agents had tried to push the prices above £250,000 briefly at the end of last year, then quickly brought them down.

Here’s an example of one of these four bedroom homes in Nairn – asking price, £233,000:

However, let’s compare this to similar properties in nearby regions:

Beauly: For a similar property, fixed price of £255,000:

Muir of Ord: Only 3 bedrooms, asking price is over £245,000

Dingwall: is also more expensive at offers over £259,000

Aviemore: Similar marketed at offers over £255,000

Similar properties at Croy and Cawdor have recently come up nearer £270,000.

Nairn is certainly looking cheaper! The difference may only be around £20,000 in some regions, but that’s still around a 10% more affordable.

In fact, when we came up here in 2006, we were already sold on the Inverness-Nairn area, but Nairn was definitely the more affordable – you couldn’t get a four-bedroom detached for £200,000 then outside of Nairn.

Even though prices have risen, Nairn still remains very much cheaper by comparison not simply to most of the rest of the Highland, but also much of Scotland.

The dangers of averages

So the first point to make is that compared to the surrounding area, Nairn is probably the most affordable place to live within commuting distance to Inverness.

The second is that these surveys tend to be badly skewed by averages. I ran a study of the government’s own records on selling prices via the DLGC records early in 1997: Property statistics investors needs to watch.

Average house prices were reported to have risen 8.49% between Q4 2005 and Q4 2006, but this is what they looked like broken down by property type:

Growth by property:

Detached – 6.78%
Semi-det.- 7.42%
Terraced – 9.23%
Flat/mas.- 9.07%
ALL prop.- 8.49%

It also turned out that detached properties were weighted towards sales in the south of England, with detached properties in the north of England rising by around 5.1%.

Average house prices involve assumptions that can easily mislead – for example, current reporting would have us believe that average house prices have fallen around 15% – and yet, again, when you look at the DLCG figures, the biggest falls are in flats and terraced properties – the very types that were inflating the most in the bubble years, and are now deflating fastest, with detached properties generally seeing small falls by percentage terms.

So we could talk about averages and how Nairn compares to other seaside towns in Scotland, but you can be assured that the criteria of what constitutes a “seaside town” and “average price” involve a number of assumptions that may not give an accurate picture.

That’s another reason why I like to keep an eye on the property market in general – so I can try and keep a good eye on the realities of property prices (and sometimes write up observations at the Home Move property portal).

Why Nairn is a great place to live

The strange thing is that Nairn has so much more going for it than a number of the compared areas.

Aside from the gorgeous beaches, Nairn has other factors which should have a positive impact on house prices:

– Train links: train station on the Inverness-Aberdeen line
– Road links: Main Inverness-Aberdeen road (A96) plus east Inverness is less subject to congestion that west or north Inverness
– Air links: we’re only 8 miles from the airport!

Most retail development around Inverness is now developing on the eastern side, which Nairn can take advantage of, plus retail development within Nairn itself (ie, Sainsburys) means there should be more choice on our doorstep soon.

That in addition to the stunning surroundings, views over the Moray Firth, Ben Wyvis, and the Sutherland Coast, plus easy access to the beautiful and historic Culbin Forest, not to mention the rolling hills of Nairnshire – and the general low flooding risk to existing developments (as opposed to other towns across the Moray Firth – Inverness, Forres, Elgin – which all have significant flooding problems).

All in all, Nairn should be one of the most up and coming areas of the Highlands, and certainly property prices at present do not reflect the advantages of living in the town.

So while there may be concerns about affordable housing in Nairn, the truth as I see it is that Nairn remains one of the most affordable places to live in the region.

In which case, concerns about development in the town I think should be less about affordability, as much as sustainability and considered development within the existing character of Nairn.


9 Responses to “Nairn property still relatively cheap”

  1. bill on July 15th, 2009 6:25 am

    If you were a local you would be unlikely to describe Nairn property prices as ‘relatively cheap’. In common with much of the Highlands property prices have risen an enormous mount over the last 10-15 years, part of this rise is due to incomers coming to live here from the south of the country where historically property used to be much more expensive.
    This has seen a leveling out to a degree of house pricing between the Highlands and the rest of the country, but means that the majority of housing in the Highlands is beyond the means of many locals (This in common with many rural areas)
    The yardstick you use a four-bedroom house does not give a real average of house prices, jut the average for four bedroom houses!
    You mention other areas that are more expensive but fail to examine all areas of the Highlands, how about Golspie for example?
    A four bedroom detached new build in not your ‘average’ home in the Highlands; Nairn is certainly not one of the cheapest areas of Scotland
    As you say ‘Average house prices involve assumptions that can easily mislead’

    Perhaps not in the Highlands but ‘flats and terraced properties – the very types that were inflating the most in the bubble years’ are surely the most popular (By volume sold) types of property at the lower end of the housing market. The lack of availability of mortgages is surely going to hit properties that are the first/second tier on the housing market?

    As for your pointers on a great place to live

    ‘Train links: train station on the Inverness-Aberdeen line’

    Have you ever tried to use this service as a regular commuter? I would suggest if you did you would not be very happy

    ‘Road links: Main Inverness-Aberdeen road (A96) plus east Inverness is less subject to congestion that west or north Inverness’

    Again have you tried a regular commute into Inverness on the A96?
    As someone who has traveled frequently throughout the Highlands traffic on the A9 north of Inverness is much lighter than the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen

    ‘Air links: we’re only 8 miles from the airport’!

    Most people only use air transport for holidays and are used (If you live in the Highlands) to having to travel to: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester to get their annual flight. Having to live with air traffic due to close proximity to an airport is not a housing bonus!

    ‘And the general low flooding risk to existing developments’
    The Fishertown has flooded several times. Witness the flood prevention work that takes place by the river every spring high tide.

    Other than tourism the Highlands currently have no real industry or major employment opportunities. Free care for the elderly is also making Scotland an attractive destination for those south of the border to retire to.
    Many people have left Nairn not because they wanted to, but to find work/housing.
    The truth is that your four-bedroom house is beyond the dream of many people in the region and is not at all affordable.
    The geography of the Highlands means that it is unlikely to attract major business investment. We are a carbon-based society but with rising fuel costs, and a relatively low population we are not a first choice for new business.
    Affordability of housing should be a prime concern for Nairn, or are we happy that we become exclusive attracting only those that can afford to live here? It may be too late as I think we have already reached that point!

  2. Brian Turner on July 15th, 2009 9:17 am

    Bill, property prices have risen dramatically across the country – affordability is a concern all over the UK.

    What I’m trying to highlight is that property prices in Nairn are still comparatively cheaper.

    A four-bedroom house may not be the most average property, but as a yardstick it is certainly illustrative – check the examples above and compare to areas west of Inverness, or the other villages in Nairnshire.

    Affordability may be an issue in Nairn, but I would suggest it’s even more of a concern elsewhere.

    As for the transport links – sure, they have issues, but you’ll find congestion on roads and reliability issues with public transport an endemic issue across the country.

    If you’ve tried driving through Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen at a weekend, or tried to get a connection from their nearest railway stations to their airports, I’m sure you’ll do anything but praise them!

    Inverness airport also offers an important business link to London and other major UK cities and have had to use it a lot for business myself. Also use it for holiday connections – Nairn’s proximity certainly means simpler journeying.

    Property prices are often positively impacted by the presence of transport links, regardless of service issues – before coming to Nairn we rented in Clackmannanshire, and as soon as the new railway station began construction in Alloa, prices there began to rocket. Service issues were not a concern, simply the potential availability of such services.

    That’s why I’m additionally surprised that compared to the surrounding areas, Nairn – despite it’s superior transport links – remains comparatively cheaper to buy property.

    None of this post is about saying buying property is cheap, or that there is no affordability issue in Nairn – what I’ve tried to underline is that Nairn’s property still remains more affordable than much of the surrounding area. Therefore any claim that Nairn is especially desperate for affordable housing I think overlooks the context of the property market in the Highlands and Scotland.

    You’re right, though – without relatively easy access to mortgages affordability issues are even more piqued – but again, this is a UK-wide problem – and even more so where property prices are comparatively higher.

  3. Brian Turner on July 15th, 2009 10:34 am

    I’m just going to pull up on this comment as well:

    “Affordability of housing should be a prime concern for Nairn, or are we happy that we become exclusive attracting only those that can afford to live here?”

    Not many people are mobile enough to have the luxury of moving between towns, so if “affordable housing” were made a priority, who is actually going to move in there? Locals? Or, more likely, people fleeing higher prices in Inverness in order to commute back there?

    A complaint raised before in discussions on development is that Nairn is increasingly becoming little more than a commuter suburb of Inverness.

    However, if there is too much of a focus on “affordable housing”, isn’t that simply going to exacerbate this issue of Nairn, Suburb of Inverness?

    I’m not at all suggesting that Nairn should seek to be an exclusive place to live – and certainly the property prices here at present aren’t giving that impression.

    However, development in Nairn I think needs to look at the needs of the town as an individual entity, and remain balanced for it, rather than exaggerate concerns that Nairn may be especially unaffordable – when by comparison, I don’t think it is suffering the issue as badly as many other closer areas.

  4. Cathy on July 15th, 2009 2:07 pm

    According to one BBC web page, a qualified teacher can expect to start on around £19,000 – £22,000.

    In Scotland, the new entrants’ starting salary is £20,427, so let us say 20K for ease of figures and let’s just move the teacher around to a selection of properties around the country – a 1 bedroom flat; 2 bed terrace or 3 bed semi detached.

    Then look at the house price to earnings ratio in all cases. That model should give a better indication.

    Of course many other careers pay a lot less than that £6 per hour for 40 hour week would give on 12k per annum.

  5. bill on July 15th, 2009 7:35 pm

    Brian not many people are ever in your position of owning a four-bedroom house anywhere.
    Many people in Nairn rent accommodation or live with their parents but would dearly love to own their own homes. Low wages and the lack of affordable housing means that this is just not possible, not even a one bedroom flat shared between two.
    Cathy gives details of a teacher’s salary as a yardstick for housing, but even on a professional salary a teacher would be hard pushed to get on the property ladder in Nairn
    Public housing was once an option before the reign of Thatcher’s Right to Buy scheme, now as Shelter have said we need many thousands of homes to be built such is our housing needs.
    I’m not saying ‘Nairn may be especially unaffordable’, just that it needs to have some affordable housing so local people can live here!

  6. Brian Turner on July 15th, 2009 7:40 pm

    “I’m not saying ‘Nairn may be especially unaffordable’, just that it needs to have some affordable housing so local people can live here!”

    Oh, quite agree!

  7. David Macarthur on July 17th, 2009 9:11 am

    Well I’ve lived in and arround Nairn all my life and I have to say that house prices have always seemed to vairy on where you live.

    I just moved into my first place with my fiance and were currently renting.

    3 Bedrooms, Bathroom, Living room, Kitchen all huge rooms. Huge Garden right on the riverside.

    £450 a month. I don’t know about anyone else but for a property that size on the hightstreet.
    (Litrally down Belivat Terrace)
    I think that’s a good price?

  8. E.Maree on July 17th, 2009 9:17 am

    Some views from the renting side of things – I can’t comment on Nairn vs. other seaside towns, but compared to the insane house prices in Inverness, Nairn is fantastic. The house I’m in right now would be about twice the price in Inverness. The fact that I can even afford to stay in a house, and not an apartment or a basement, is a shock enough after Inverness prices. :P

    If I was going to say anywhere was unaffordable, it’d be Inverness.

  9. Brian Turner on July 17th, 2009 10:56 am

    “£450 a month. … I think that’s a good price?”

    When we rented near Stirling, it cost £800/month for a 4 bedroom. That was a reduced price as well!

    Wasn’t a particularly expensive area, either – we were in a village called Menstrie, just within Clackmannshire. Property prices there have remained fairly muted due to over supply of housing from massive over development, especially around Tullibody.

    So £450 for 3 bedrooms in Nairn sounds pretty reasonable. :)