PETROLHEADS have given a big boost to the property market in the far north of Scotland after taking on the country’s answer to Route 66.
The North Coast 500 has been described as one of the best driving routes in the world since it opened in April 2015.
Some of the drivers have been so taken with the magnificent scenery on the route they’ve decided to buy homes there.
Estate agents are reporting an increase in sales of around 50% on the 512-mile loop from Inverness Castle through the Black Isle, Caithness, Sutherland and Wester Ross.
The spending splurge is also starting to push up prices, with properties that might have fetched £310,000 last year going for £20,000 extra.
Dubbed “Scotland’s answer to route 66”, the NC500 has attracted an additional 29,000 visitors to the Highlands this year alone.
Property marketing group Highland Solicitors Property Centre (HSPC), now provide a map of properties for sale on the route, which currently number 260.
HSPC manager Sarah Woodcock said: “Our sales in August are 11% up and our website has had record numbers of buyers searching online since earlier this year.
“The NC500 is certainly bringing a lot of people to the area, the publicity it’s been receiving has inspired many people to visit the North route.
“Many will be experiencing the area for the first time and a number may be inspired to then buy in the area.
“The NC500 is a great way to showcase the Highlands as an amazing place to live, highlighting any of our properties for sale this way just enhances the ways in which we can reach our buyer, especially when there is so much interest in the route.”
Galbraith’s website says that sales from its Inverness office have increased by 50% for the second quarter of this year compared with the first quarter of 2017. Prices are also on the increase, says the firm, compared both with the previous quarter and same quarter last year.
John Bound, partner with Galbraith, added there was strong evidence of an increase in buyers from outside the area.
“Amongst our customers we have seen an increase from 25% in the preceding quarter to 33% this quarter in terms of buyers relocating to Inverness-shire and the Highlands from other parts of the UK.”
Mr Bound said: “The NC500 route has reached a huge audience. This has undoubtedly raised awareness of the beauty of the north of Scotland and anecdotally has had an influence on the number of people wishing to relocate to Inverness-shire from other parts of Scotland and the UK.”
“Our experience is that good quality, accurately priced property tends to sell relatively quickly, especially properties priced at £650,000 or below.”
Among properties currently for sale are Isle Of Ewe Smokehouse, a three-bedroom detached cottage is currently on the market for £330,000 and includes 0.56 acres of land.
The same money could buy a spacious two-storey home in the centre of Edinburgh – with the UK national average around £200,000.
A similar three-bedroom home, with two acres of ground, around 80 miles north of Isle of Ewe Smokehouse was listed in June last year but for £20,000 cheaper.
Whilst a a stunning five-bedroom house suituated within its own private walled garden sold near the scenic seaside village of Ullapool – part of the NC500 route.
The beautiful 1 Braemore Walled Garden was sold in April this year for over £340,000 – the same change could purchase a three bedroom terraced house in Croydon, London.
The NC500 includes several challenging routes, including the Bealach-na-Ba at Applecross – an unclassified road which rises to around 626m (2,053ft) over about four miles.