Perthshire Telephone Exchange Sells for £85k in ‘quirky’ Property Boom

Perthshire telephone exchange sells for £85k in ‘quirky’ property boom

Measuring just eight metres by two and with a distinct lack of mod cons, it is certainly what estate agents might like to say is on the “compact and bijou” side.

For years, the tiny telephone exchange building on the outskirts of the small hamlet of Ardeonaig in Perthshire did a fine job helping to keep communications flowing.

Now, however, the disused stone building overlooking Loch Tay has astounded its owner and the online auction firm that has just sold it, after smashing its initial £15,000 guide price by around six times that amount.

The rather snug building – a little longer but barely wider than the average domestic garage – attracted international interest as bidders battled it out before it finally went under the hammer for £85,000.

The price is roughly the same as some two-bedroom properties currently on the market in towns such as Dunoon and Glenrothes, Fife.

While the telephone exchange accommodation might be far more basic than a home – there’s no running water, toilet facilities or heating for a start – the location, overlooking the loch and with Ben Lawers towering in the distance, certainly had a lot to do with the final price.

The Covid-fuelled boom in Scottish rural holidays and even the growing trend for “huts” – secluded and basic accommodation offering an escape into the wilderness – are also thought to have inspired interest in the small building.

According to auctioneer George Douglas, of seller Online Property Auctions Scotland, the unusual property became the focus of heated interest within minutes of its details being posted online.

“Within an hour we had people trying to buy it for £25,000,” he said.

“At that point we knew it would sell for quite a good price, but it ended up outstripping anything we have seen in a while.

“Enquiries were coming in from all over the UK and abroad. We had between 500 and 600 enquiries and for the actual auction we had more than 80 people registered to bid.

“We didn’t expect anything like that for a building like this.”

The old telephone exchange – barely large enough to accommodate a double bed – sits on the south side of Loch Tay, just off the A827, and without a neighbour to be seen for miles.

Killin is around eight miles in one direction, and Kenmore is the same distance in the other.

Mr Douglas said there has been a noticeable trend towards “quirky” and unusual buildings attracting significant interest from buyers, particularly when in attractive rural locations.

Earlier this year, a public toilet in Tarbet on the west shores of Loch Lomond sold for more than £20,000, while the Glasgow-based online auction firm recently sold Borgue Church near Kirkcudbright for £50,000 – around half the price of a garage in some parts of Edinburgh. The B-Listed Gothic-style church has a history that dates from 1150 and a graveyard which contains the mausoleum of the Gordon of Earlston family, including Colonel Sir William Gordon who survived the Charge of the Light Brigade.

In Aberdeenshire, the former Auld West Kirk in picturesque Alford also sold at auction for £40,000.

It’s thought interest in unusual rural properties is being driven at least in part by investors looking to convert them into rental holiday properties for the booming 
self-catering sector.

Mr Douglas added: “Properties that people might not think are worth anything are turning out to be attracting a lot of interest, including churches.

“People are looking for alternative and quirky places either to live in or to use as holiday accommodation.

“What one person thinks is a carbuncle, someone else will look at it and think it will be an ideal holiday home.”

This article first appeared in the Herald on the 12th September 2021. Credit Sandra Dick.


Bridge of Weir: More than 80 bids made for derelict house

A derelict house in Bridge of Weir has been sold for £313,000 at auction following a frenzied bidding war

The Bridge of Weir property has been lying empty for many years

The four-bedroom detached villa, which requires full upgrading, has been lying empty for some time and is unsuitable for habitation.

Selling agents Online Property Auctions Scotland had originally set a guide price of just £195,000 for the half acre site on Johnstone Road, one of the most sought-after locations in the west of Scotland.

However, the property went under the hammer for a significantly higher sum of money on Thursday, August 12, following more than 80 bids.

The bidding began at £180,000 and over next five hours, seven would-be buyers battled it out before the 82nd bid of £313,000 proved to be decisive.

George Douglas, CEO of Online Property Auctions Scotland, told The Gazette: “This type of property is rarely available in this area, which is why it attracted so much interest.

“The purchaser has several options, which include renovating the existing house or building a brand new detached house or residential development, subject to obtaining planning permission.”

Located between Bankend Road and Bridge of Weir Road, the property benefits from a substantial main road frontage and was in the ownership of the same family for a large number of years.

The property currently comprises of a dining kitchen, utility room, three public rooms, two WC, a bathroom, four double bedrooms and a boxroom.

There is also a large three-car garage and basement rooms.

This article first appeared in The Gazette on the 21st August 2021. Credit Jacob Nicol.


Borgue Church going up for auction

The historic B-listed Borgue Church building will be put up for auction next week, three years after it was closed closed due to a dwindling congregation.

Borgue Church goes under the hammer with a guide price of £53,000

The church had been in existence since 1814 and the churchyard contains the late 19th century mausoleum of the Gordons of Earlston.

Borgue Parish is linked to Gatehouse, Tarff and Twynholm parishes, it lies five miles south-west of Kirkcudbright and six miles south of Gatehouse of Fleet.

The sale, by online auction takes place on Thursday, July 29, with a guide price of £53,000.

The 3280 sq ft property, which was previously on the market for offer over £60,000, is located in an elevated position, overlooking Borgue with views out to the Galloway Hills and the Solway Firth.

According to selling agents, Online Property Auctions Scotland, the church provides excellent development potential and is likely to attract interest from developers seeking a bespoke opportunity to create something special.

A spokeserson said: “We are delighted to offer to the market this substantial detached Category B listed former church building.

“The church is of Gothic design and is ideal for conversion into a magnificent house or a commercial venture including a possible tourist facility (all subject to planning consents).

“The varied landscape and seascape of the Borgue area makes it highly desirable for outdoor activities.”

*This article first appeared in The Galloway Gazette on the 21st July 2021.


Commercial property: Industrial land in Golspie sells for £9,500 after going up for auction at £1

Golspie Industrial Estate, at the centre of the picture.

A piece of industrial land in Golspie which was put up for auction with a guide price of just £1 eventually sold for £9,500.

The auction, run by Online Property Auctions Scotland (OPAS), included five other lots.

Although they attracted multiple bids, these were not high enough to meet the sellers’ valuations.

OPAS said the plot of vacant land with the £1 price tag and potential annual rental income of £800 attracted “huge interest”.

Winning bidder opened with £3,000 offer

The identity of the buyer was undisclosed but OPAS said they entered the auction yesterday (June 23) with a bid of £3,000 and were forced up by competitors throughout the afternoon.

A total of seven bidders made had made 35 bids in all by the time the auction came to an end.

The five other units to come under the hammer attracted final bids ranging from £19,000 to £59,000 but none of them matched their guide prices, ranging from £11,000 to £64,000.

Golspie Industrial Estate Unit 5, which had a guide price of £16,000.

Covid-19 has led to a marked decline in traditional property viewings due to social distancing rules.

But these same conditions have allowed OPAS and other businesses with the same operating model to thrive.

Yesterday’s “special” auction of industrial property and land in Golspie’s town centre industrial estate was described by the auctioneers as “a once in a generation event”.

It is the first time the auctioneer has focused on just one industrial estate.

Site-focused event may be replicated

George Douglas, the Glasgow-based company’s managing director, had previously indicated a successful event could be the forerunner for more like it.

OPAS specialises in the sale of high-yielding commercial and residential lots, including land.

Its online auctions are held, on average, every two weeks, with dozens of properties available – both commercial and residential – from across the country. Bidding can be done via desktop, tablet or mobile device.

Industrial market slump

Just over £30m was invested in Scotland’s industrial property market amid lockdown during the first three months of 2021, half the five-year quarterly average of £61m, according to property giant Colliers.

In a blog late last year, Mr Douglas said: “Obviously it’s not been possible to attend live auctions during the pandemic.

“But we’ve found a very healthy number of regular ballroom auction patrons migrating to our online auctions during the lockdown.”

*This article first appeared in The Press & Journal on the 17th June 2021. Credit Keith Findlay.


Property and land at Golspie Industrial Estate to go under hammer in special online auction

A special auction of industrial property and land in Golspie will take place next Wednesday (June 23), with guide prices starting at just £1.

The sale, conducted by Online Property Auctions Scotland, comprises of six lots situated in the industrial estate in the centre of the village.

Units at Golspie Industrial Estate

One lot of vacant land, which currently provides an annual rental income of £800, has a guide price of £1.

The sale has been described by the auctioneers as “a once in a generation event”.

The other five units going under the hammer are a mix of tenanted and vacant properties in different sizes.

Guide prices for them range from £11,000 to £64,000.

George Douglas, Managing Director of the Glasgow-based Online Property Auctions Scotland, said: “This is a special auction because only these units in Golspie are up for sale.

“Normally, we host an auction every fortnight with dozens of properties available, both commercial and residential from across the country.

“This is the first time we have focussed on just one industrial estate. If it proves to be a success, we will probably do it again.”

Online Property Auctions Scotland are a well-established auctioneers specialising in the sale of high-yielding commercial and residential lots, including land.

Auctions take place every two weeks and the bidding is live in real time. Bidding can be conducted via desktop, tablet or mobile device.

Click here for further details.

*This article first appeared in The Northern Times on the 17th June 2021.


Foreign investors go online to buy Scottish homes

Foreign buyers are increasingly taking advantage of relatively low prices to invest in residential housing in Scotland, according to one online property auction site.

Buyers from the Far East, North America and Eastern Europe are among those who have purchased flats in a variety of locations across the country through Online Property Auctions Scotland during the past two months. According to chief executive George Douglas, this is an increasing trend in the market.

“We are now attracting interest from around the globe, at higher levels than before,” he said. “Among the recent buyers of properties auctioned by us have been investors living in China, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Romania and the USA.

“Prices in Scotland have risen steadily over the past 12 months, despite the pandemic and the obstacles it has caused to viewing. This is due to the market adapting to a more online-based selling system.

“Even with the increase in value, Scotland is still thought of as an area with great growth potential.”

Among the properties purchased by foreign buyers through Online Property Auctions in the past two months are: a flat in Princes Court, Ayr, to a Chinese buyer; a one bedroom flat in George Street, Ayr, to a New York resident; a one bedroom flat in Saracen Street, Glasgow, to a Chinese resident; a three bedroom flat in Millgate Road, Hamilton, to an investor based in Hong Kong; a tenanted commercial property in High Street, Kirkcaldy, to a Saudi-based investor; a two bedroom flat in Jimmy Sneddon Way, Motherwell, to a Romanian resident; and a two bedroom flat in Castlefern Road, Rutherglen, also to a Romanian buyer.

Mr Douglas added: “While the various lockdowns have prevented viewing in a traditional sense, it has led to a greater reliance on online sales. Despite everything that is here, foreigners still see Scotland as a good investment.”

*This article first appeared in The Herald on the 23rd January 2021. Credit Kristy Dorsey.


Interview with George Douglas CEO of Online Property Auctions Scotland

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a marked decline in traditional property viewings due to social distancing rules.

However, these conditions have allowed Online Property Auctions Scotland, a company specializing in digital property auctions, to thrive.

CEO George Douglas says: “Obviously it’s not been possible to attend live auctions during the pandemic, but we’ve found a very healthy number of regular ballroom auction patrons migrating to our online auctions during the lockdown.

“We don’t charge any fees whatsoever to those looking to sell their property in our auctions, and we offer a speed of sale that estate agents simply can’t manage at the current time.

“We’ve sold properties in all four corners of Scotland in the past year, and we’ve also grown the number of sellers looking to list with us.

“Interestingly many sales were completed with the aid of video viewings etc.”

The company has a wide range of properties, both residential and commercial, presented for sale through auction three times a month.

In recent weeks OPAS have sold several flats in Glasgow, a pub and restaurant portfolio in Cambuslang, along with other property in Paisley, Ayr, Airdrie and Kirkcaldy.

George Douglas adds: “Perhaps the most unusual sale recently was a former church building in rural Perthshire

“The new owners intend to convert it into a stunning family home. It is always refreshing to see people with a dream and vision which will breathe new life into a neglected building.”

Sellers include financial institutions, banks, insolve​ncy practitioners, executory sales, large and small investors as well as private clients who seek a fast, guaranteed sale.

Prospective buyers are provided with a legal pack prepared by the vendor’s solicitor.

It is also always possible to view all of the properties and potential buyers are urged to carry out their own due diligence.

*This article first appeared on Novaloca on the 16th November 2020


Dundee restaurant owners to turn former Stanley Church into luxury homes after auction purchase

Lauren and Calum Runciman outside the former Stanley Church.

A Tayside couple have revealed plans to turn an historic church into luxury homes.

Lauren and Calum Runciman bought the 200-year-old Stanley Church at auction, after it was given a “terminal diagnosis” and sold off by the Church of Scotland.

It is the latest project for the couple, who run The Giddy Goose and The White Goose restaurants in Dundee.

Lauren, 23, said: “Our plans for the downstairs – which used to be the manse – is to make two apartments. One will have one bedroom and the other will have two bedrooms.

“We also want to convert the main building into a luxury family home.

“We plan to make it a five or six bedroom house with a spa, a gym and such like.”

But despite the significant changes to the building’s interior, the couple don’t want to change the church’s outside appearance.

“We have been doing some research about the church and we want to keep the outside as much the same as possible,” said Lauren.

The couple hope they can complete the two apartments in around six months. They aim to conclude their entire project in around 18 months to two years.

But despite the ongoing pandemic, Lauren and Calum believe restrictions have not been an issue for them.

Lauren said: “It has been a good time to focus on the church in Stanley.

“Our families said we are crazy but we think this is the perfect time to do this.”

Meanwhile, SNP councillor, Grant Laing says he “welcomes” the move.

The Strathtay ward representative said: “I welcome that there is a use for the building.

“I also welcome that the saga is coming to an end and that there will be some use out of it.”

The former church was given a “terminal diagnosis” by building inspectors after it sustained damage during Storm Frank in 2016.

Church of Scotland put the property up for sale as they believed it will cost around £500,000 to make the building safe in the short term and over a million to secure it for the future.

It has remained empty since the storm, but Lauren and Calum hope they can give the building a new lease of life.

*This article first appeared in The Courier on the 9th November 2020


Abandoned ‘Greek Thomson’ mansion up for auction

An abandoned mansion fit for a millionaire is coming up for auction this month at a heavily discounted price

Abandoned ‘Greek Thomson’ mansion up for auction

The substantial five-bedroom detached villa is situated in the exclusive Dullatur Village near Cumbernauld.

It was bought in December 2005 for £500,000. A few years later the owner is understood to have moved abroad, leaving the home empty and unattended.

It was recently purchased by a developer, who stripped it internally in the first phase of a refurbishment project.

The developer has now had a change of heart and has put the 0.7-acre site up for sale with a guide price of £525,000.

George Douglas of sellers, Online Property Auctions Scotland, said: “This is a rare opportunity to purchase a blank canvas and transform it into the mansion of your dreams.

“This type of property, in terms of location, stature, size and condition, only comes onto the market once in a generation.

“At this price the potential reward for any buyer is massive.”

The property, “Woodend” on Prospect Road, Dullator, is designed in the Greek Thomson style and comes with plans for a gym and a cinema room.

Although it doesn’t go under the hammer until October 15, there has already been huge interest in it.

OPAS say on their website: “The property is in need of full refurbishment.

“It comes with a large detached double garage which contains a bespoke kitchen made for installation which was costed at £30,000.

“This is a very rare opportunity to purchase this fantastic villa and create a stunning, unique family home of character.”

*This article first appeared in The Herald on the 1st October 2020


Searching for the new Finnieston… the property boss lining up bargains at auction

George Douglas on why his digital property business was booming during lockdown

George Douglas has pinpointed once run-down Govanhill as an area to watch

While Covid-19 put house viewings in the leafy suburbs on hold for three months, property boss George Douglas has been busier than ever.

His online auctions business sells homes, many of them ‘doer-uppers’ or in up and coming areas, to savvy bargain hunters.

Douglas’ firm Online Property Auctions Scotland has recently sold flats in Glasgow, a pub and restaurant portfolio in Cambuslang, a former church building in rural Perthshire along with other property in Paisley, Ayr, Airdrie and Kirkcaldy.

Sellers include financial institutions, banks, insolve​ncy practitioners, executory sales, large and small investors as well as private clients who seek a fast, guaranteed sale.

Church in Perthshire is one of the more unusual properties sold by George Douglas during lockdown

“Traditionally, auctions were usually frequented by the seasoned investor,” says Douglas, chief executive of the firm.

“However, we now see buyers from all walks of life. These include professional local investors who we know on first name terms, plus a range of investors from south of the border and overseas who see the value in the Scottish market.

“The buy-to-let market remains strong with high demand, which also comes from developers looking for renovation and resell projects.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic we have noticed a small increase in the number of residential buyers who are just looking for somewhere to live.”

Douglas believes the success or otherwise of the economy in general will influence the immediate fate of the property business.

He said: “Economic uncertainty is highly likely to have an effect on the property market. These have been a very difficult few months for many people and some will look to cash in on some assets.

“The residential housing market was strong going into lockdown, however redundancies and lack of confidence are certain to have some effect on the levels of stock coming to the market.”

Douglas’ firm ensures prospective buyers are provided with a legal pack prepared by the vendor’s solicitor, and urges them to view the property first and carry out their own due diligence.

And he is also in a good position to share his wisdom to those bargain hunters looking for the new Finnieston, the area of Glasgow which has gone shabby to chic in little more than a decade.

George Douglas, Online Property Auctions Scotland
Online Property Auctions Scotland chief executive George Douglas

“There are a couple of unfashionable parts of Glasgow where prices have been rising steadily of late,” he says.

“The first is Govanhill, an area with a perceived bad reputation. This has seen a big transformation with Victoria Road now awash with trendy independent shops and cafes.

“We have seen the prices of some flats in the area double in the last couple of years.

“My other choice for an upcoming area would be Govan and Ibrox. We are seeing increasing prices down there and, crucially, there are still some bargains to be had.

“I tend to ignore much of the financial analysis and opinions when assessing a potential growth area. I find when the cafes move in and start selling coffee at £5 a cup, that’s the time to invest because the young professionals will soon follow.”

*This article first appeared in on the 12th August 2020