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House Hunting in ... Scotland

$2,384,794 (£1.6 MILLION)
This five-bedroom house spread over about 4,100 square feet is in a historic residential neighborhood, the Blacket Conservation Area, south of Edinburgh’s city center. Built in 1858 on a third of an acre, it has a sandstone exterior and a slate roof. A recent renovation has preserved original details like floorboards, ceiling moldings and four fireplaces.
The house is entered through a portico on the second of three floors. Beyond a small vestibule, and accessed via a long hallway, are several rooms, among them a bedroom with a marble fireplace and a large kitchen with original Scotch pine floorboards, white Ikea cabinets, black granite countertops, and a custom-made stainless steel backsplash. Appliances and finishes include a Smeg gas oven and a Franke faucet.
The kitchen opens to a living room, which has French doors leading to a terrace. The view from there of the expansive back lawn encompasses mature trees including a silver birch, fruit trees, flowering laburnums and camellias. An external spiral staircase, made by the Scottish Ballantine Bo’ness Iron Company, descends to the yard.
The lower level, floored entirely in oak, is reached by a contemporary oak staircase in the entry hall. It has a living room and a game room, as well as a garden room with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors opening to the back lawn. A bathroom, a utility room and a two-car garage complete the floor.
The third floor, accessed from the entry hallway by a traditional staircase with iron balusters, has four bedrooms. Ceilings are 11 feet high, and many rooms have original ceiling moldings and cornices. The master bedroom has a marble fireplace anda large bay window overlooking the back lawn; across the hall is a bathroom with tub, sink, toilet and bidet by the German company Villeroy & Boch, which also made the ceramic tiles resembling slate. Views encompass Arthur’s Seat, the famous hillside peak in nearby Holyrood Park.
Houses in the Blacket Conservation Area, from the Victorian and Regency periods, are popular with families because of their size and amenities, said Matthew Munro of Knight Frank in Edinburgh, the listing agent. The neighborhood is close to good schools, golf courses and a swimming center. The house is about two miles from Edinburgh’s main rail stop, and less than an hour’s drive from the airport. Edinburgh, a World Heritage Site, is home to several universities, including the University of Edinburgh. The Bank of Scotland and The Royal Bank of Scotland are also based there.
Scotland’s residential market hit its peak in 2007. Prices have dropped 10 to 20 percent since the global economic downturn, brokers said.
Best sellers tend to fall within the range of $450,000 to $1.8 million, as buyers at this level are better able to obtain financing, said Mr. Munro, adding that more expensive properties hadn’t fared as well.
The worst off are properties selling for $380,000 and under, typically smaller homes for first-time buyers who have struggled to get mortgages because of more stringent lending policies, said Andrew Diamond, a partner at Lindsays Solicitors and Estate Agents in Edinburgh.
Foreign buyers in Scotland are a diverse if small group, from elsewhere in Europe as well as the Far East, the Middle East and the Americas. According to Neil Harrison of the Edinburgh Solicitor Property Centre, fewer than 2 percent of homes last year in Edinburgh and the surrounding area were sold to foreign buyers, 5 percent to buyers from England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the remainder to buyers already living in Scotland.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers. Sellers are required to provide a comprehensive written assessment called a Home Report, documenting condition, energy performance, renovations, and other pertinent information — even disputes with neighbors. Buyers must hire a solicitor, who charges anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000. The contract of purchase and sale is drafted by the buyer and seller’s solicitors.
Solicitors in Scotland often sell real estate as well; Mr. Diamond estimates that solicitors sell 80 percent of the properties in Edinburgh. Traditional real estate agents are typically employed by national chains and tend to sell higher end properties.
If prospective buyers seek to hire a solicitor for the purchase of a house that the solicitor is coincidentally selling, the solicitor is required to refer them to another solicitor, Mr. Harrison said. Foreigners can obtain financing through Scottish banks, providing their finances meet bank requirements.
Scotland tourism: visitscotland.com/
Edinburgh tourism: edinburgh.org/
Edinburgh portal: edinburgh.gov.uk/
Blacket area: blacketedin.org/
English, Scots, Scottish Gaelic; British pound (£1 = $1.52)
The transfer tax, known as stamp duty, is about 5 percent of the sale price. The annual property tax, known as council tax, is $3,540.
Matthew Munro, Knight Frank in Edinburgh, 011 44 131 222 9600; .knightfrank.co.uk

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