Although estate agents are active in Scotland’s main cities, homes in Shetland are generally sold through solicitors, who also carry out all the associated legal work. The Scottish system of submitting offers over an indicative price applies and this typically means that a house may fetch perhaps 10% to 30% above that price. Occasionally, houses may be advertised at a fixed price. If you’ve been used to the English market, it’s important to note that, in Scotland, an offer is binding once accepted by the vendor, provided that any conditions attached to the offer are met, for example, a stipulation that the survey is satisfactory.
It’s hard to give any more than a rough indication of house prices, since so much depends on the location and quality of the property in question. In Lerwick, a modern, three or four-bedroom detached bungalow or an older, stone-built semi-detached house might sell for somewhere between £220,000 and £350,000. A one- or two-bedroom flat could go for between £100,000 and £160,000. With about ten miles of Lerwick, restored traditional croft houses are sometimes available, typically for between £100,000 and £180,000. Prices tend to decline with distance from Lerwick; twenty miles out, the equivalent house might be £30,000 to £80,000 cheaper. In the islands, costs are substantially lower; for example, a three-bedroom former Council house or older bungalow in Yell, Unst or Whalsay could fetch between £60,000 and £100,000 The price of land is, by UK standards, relatively low. Sites in or near Lerwick sell for between £30,000 and £60,000 and the price reduces with distance from the town.
In a very few cases, a house may come with the job. Some employers, for example the Shetland Islands Council, may offer some form of settling-in allowance or grant assistance towards rental costs.
Lastly, if you’re keen to rescue a ruin – and sensitively restore a part of Shetland’s heritage – you can browse the Buildings at Risk Register online. You should speak to the Planning Service’s heritage staff on 01595 744800; they can advise on the planning procedures and, depending on the property, may be able to offer advice on sources of grant aid.