By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 29th November 2018

Business of the month: Galbraith

We caught up with Samantha Clyne, a residential sales negotiator with Galbraith in Inverness. The firm is Scotland’s largest property consultancy managing and providing advice on farming, forestry, land and estate interests on over three million acres. Galbraith provides the full range of property sales, lettings and consultancy services across the residential, commercial, rural and renewable energy sectors throughout Scotland and northern England.

1. Hello Samantha! Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, have you always lived in the north Highlands?

I was born and bred here and have never left. I absolutely love it here. I don’t think I could be tempted to move anywhere else! There could not be a better place for enjoying a good quality of life amid fantastic scenery. It’s an ideal place for hill walking, and all kinds of outdoor pursuits, but it is also brilliantly well connected and not too far from Glasgow and Edinburgh for business reasons or visiting family.

I’ve been with Galbraith for five years in the residential sales team. My job involves preparing particulars and sales brochures, arranging viewings, liaising with customers and assisting with all aspects of the work of the Inverness team.

2. Since the launch of the North Coast 500 what changes have you witnessed along the North Coast 500?

The NC500 route has reached a huge audience, with thousands of followers on social media and national and international media coverage. Anecdotally this has had an influence on the number of people wishing to move to the Highlands from other parts of Scotland and to the UK, particularly those looking for a change of lifestyle. Among our customers, the quality of life on offer here is the number one reason for people deciding to relocate.

3. Have you witnessed any recent changes at Galbraith?

During the past three months, we handled 216 property viewings in the Highlands compared with 167 in 2017, an increase of 29 per cent. While property prices are showing modest rises, the Highland area remains less expensive than other parts of Scotland and the UK and we see buyers from all over the country making the move here to enjoy a better quality of life.

Many of those who are buying on the route of the NC500 are considering whether it is worth buying a property with the potential to offer a holiday let, either in a separate annexe, within the main property itself, or even to establish a small glamping site within the grounds.

Tourism is extremely important to this region of Scotland and the NC500 brand has been a fantastic marketing tool that has boosted the regional economy far more than most people would have predicted.

4. Can you remind us what services Galbraith can offer our NC500 visitors or local residents?

For visitors who decide to come back on a more permanent basis we offer our sales and lettings service. We provide advice on property sales and purchases; we can give advice to those thinking about setting up a new holiday let on how to present their property in order to maximise their potential income. For farmers and landowners we provide advice on different potential revenue streams such as the establishment of new woodlands on their land, the potential to host a wind turbine or other renewable energy projects, opportunities for a retail business or perhaps even a Christmas tree farm – there are many different avenues to explore. We also provide advice on sources of revenue and grants which may be available to rural businesses.

5. In your opinion, what makes the North Highlands the ideal place to live and work?

It’s the quality of life here. The opportunity to enjoy such a wide range of outdoor pursuits – munro bagging, water sports, cycling and mountain biking, wild swimming, skiing in the winter, and all in the most stunning scenery. The area is very well connected to the rest of Scotland. There is a great spirit of optimism and dynamism at the moment – even little villages have come on the map now because of the NC500 route. Tourist services, cafes, pubs and restaurants and other businesses have all benefited from the publicity surrounding the NC500. There used to be a shortage of accommodation in this area really but now there are new businesses opening all the time and new kinds of holiday let – glamping pods etc, that wouldn’t have had a ready-made audience in the past.
There has been a great deal of investment in infrastructure recently (e.g. the Highland City Deal last year) and that has also boosted the confidence of the business community. Inverness Airport is also adding additional routes and that makes it easier for people to live here permanently but perhaps go to an office further afield once a week, or once a month, for meetings. Some areas also have local community-ownership of land or facilities which is a sign of the increased confidence and commitment to the future.

6. Do you have any properties on the NC500 for sale for visitors or locals wishing to relocate or set up business?

Photo: Rose Court, Fortrose

7. Now, tell us, do you have a favourite view along the North Coast 500?

The East coast around Brora, Dornoch, Golspie and Helmsdale is beautiful – there are hundreds of lovely views! The wildlife is also wonderful – red deer, otters and birds of prey are not uncommon sights.

My favourite view is just off the route on the A832 from Achnasheen to Gairloch, looking down towards Kinlochewe and Loch Maree – it never fails to take my breath away. This is just one example of the hidden gems that many people would never have seen without the creation of the NC500.

Photo: Glen Docherty view point

8. Can you please remind us what your subsidiary company Ossian and your sporting lets agency can offer visitors doing the route?

Sporting Lets is our subsidiary company, offering shooting, stalking and fishing, and also lodge accommodation for individuals or a group, whether for a single day or a longer stay. Sporting Lets is one of Scotland’s most long-established sporting agents, with 50 years of experience and close relationships with some of Scotland’s finest sporting estates. This is important because there are more visitors wishing to come and shoot in season than there are opportunities available so it’s important to have the right contacts. There is also the option to choose a tailor-made itinerary with your interests in mind, for the novice, or for those booking a special trip, with advice on everything from what to wear to where to stay. Sporting Lets can also offer a personalised airport to airport service for visitors from overseas. For fishing, Sporting Lets has the knowledge to be able to recommend the best places to go at specific times of the year and has detailed expertise of the latest catches in Scotland’s celebrated and less well-known rivers.

Ossian is a specific department offering bespoke services such as a stay in a castle or a historic building which is not usually available to paying guests. Ossian also offers bespoke luxury experiences for groups or individuals, such as a horseback safari on a special beach, lobster potting, catamaran sailing, golf, shooting, stalking, private dining, whisky tasting or adventure sports all tailor made to the individual and showcasing the best of Scotland. Private security and private aviation are available as required.

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