Eyemouth is Scotland's coastal property hotspot

MORE and more house hunters are being lured by the Berwickshire sea air, according to findings published this week.

Research from the Bank of Scotland has suggested that far from struggling, many Scottish seaside towns are bucking the property downturn, with prices going up much faster than other parts of the country.

And among the main beneficaries of this is Eyemouth, which saw the biggest average price rise over the past five years. Prices have rocketed by 140 per cent since 2004, up from 52,180 to 125,290.

Amy Brown of Berwick-based estate agents, Edwin Thompson, said that like many areas in the Scottish Borders, Eyemouth has benefited from the fact that people will pay that little bit extra for a coastal location.

"Like other places in Berwickshire, properties in Eyemouth have definitely seen a price increase over the past four years or so. There have been a number of new developments which have sold well, such as the Wimpey houses on Acredale Road.

"Eyemouth is in a prime spot for commuters and the Borders in general offers a better quality of life.

"There's a real mix of property buyers in the Berwickshire area; a lot of people who re-locate to Eyemouth stay for a long time, so they move around the town and then you've also got people who visit the area for a holiday and end up registering with agents with a view to acquiring a property.

"I wouldn't say Eyemouth has outperformed the market though, at least not for Edwin Thompson anyway. Places like Burnmouth and Coldingham have also done well, with people always willing to pay a premium for the latter."

HRH Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Eyemouth last week, and Honorary Provost of the town and chair of Eyemouth Town Council, Douglas Younger, said you can't really get a better seal of approval than that.

"Eyemouth is definitely the place to be. We've got a new high school that's absolutely fantastic, second to none and we've also got the beach, the harbour and the beautiful surroundings that come with them.

"We had a visit from the Queen and Prince Philip last week and if it's good enough for them it should be good enough for anybody!

"The fact that they came to the town shows that Eyemouth is well thought of not just locally but nationally too."

MSP for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, John Lamont, welcomed the news about Eyemouth prospering in the difficult housing market, but said that there was still a great need for more affordable housing in the area.

Speaking to 'The Berwickshire News' earlier this week, he commented: "I think we should treat these figures with some caution. It is important to note that Eyemouth has seen a number of new housing developments in the last few years and I suspect that this has had an impact on the headline prices for local houses.

"Despite that, there is clearly a lack of affordable accommodation in the eastern Borders and these figures simply confirm that the problem is not going away. Although the house prices in Eyemouth have risen significantly in the last five years, it is very unlikely that local wages will also have gone up by such a large amount.

"Whilst higher house prices might be good news for people who already own their own home, they also confirm that in many parts of the Borders, houses are becoming less affordable for local people working on Borders wages."

And while also giving a warm reception to the Bank of Scotland findings, east Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook said that it was important that the price rise didn't stop youngsters from getting their foot on the local property ladder.

"On one hand the massive increase is a positive endorsement for the town and it shows people are attracted to the great quality of life we have here but the downside is that this could put real pressure on young couples and individuals wanting to enter the property market.

"Eyemouth may have the highest increase in property but it's important to remember that we still have one of the lowest average wages.

"I think the increase is a reflection of the fact that prices in Eyemouth weren't previously consistent with other areas in the UK and now they have been brought more into line.

"Scottish Borders Council remains conscious of the housing pressures facing people in the region and that is why council policy recommends that developers in the area make a contribution to affordable housing. This helps to ensure that there is a balance."

Councillor Cook added that having the new high school in Eyemouth was a major selling point and shows that the town is moving in the right direction.

"The new high school is the most tremendous asset for Eyemouth. I said from the start that it would be difficult for people to get their heads round just how important a step having the school is for the town.

Suddenly we've got this state of the art facility that both kids and parents think is fantastic.

"It's a powerful example of how Eyemouth is looking ahead and laying the foundations for future generations."

Seaside towns such as Eyemouth are popular with people looking to buy a second home and Councillor Cook said that while this means that properties could lie empty for months you also get people moving up permanently, keen to do their bit for the area.

"There are places like Seaview Terrace in St Abbs where you'll struggle to find a permanent resident but then you've also got those people on the cusp of retirement who move up to Berwickshire permanently.

"I know there is a tendency for some people to treat 'incomers' with caution but the truth is, even though there are virtues in continuity we should always welcome new ideas.

"You just need to look at the progress with the Eyemouth allotments to see that newer residents can inject real energy to the area. Whether you're local or an incomer its about playing your part in the community."