Right house, wrong place

Sorry for the radio silence this week, but there’s been no news here on the house front – so this post is going to be a bit of a blast from the past.

When I was going through the auction listings last weekend, I noticed a few for sale in Lybster and that reminded me of the house we nearly bought there.  Originally our plan wasn’t to move up straight away, it was to have a project/holiday house that we could work on over the years and then hopefully take early retirement to.  The one we nearly bought was called Kirkstyle House in a small village called Lybster on the east coast of Caithness.

Unfortunately I’ve deleted all the pictures I had of it when we went to view it, back in 2007, but trust me, it didn’t look anywhere near as up-together and well-finished as it does here:
Kirkstyle House

That long room on the end used to be the village bakery and in the main part of the house there are four bedrooms, a good-sized living room and kitchen and a bathroom (I think the current owners have added an en-suite to one of the bedrooms, as I don’t remember being there originally).  It was on the market for £75,000 and we got all the way to putting in a formal offer, subject to mortgage valuation survey.  In the end, the surveyor decided there was an issue over something (I can’t even remember what, it might have been the roof), put a £20k retention on the valuation and we didn’t have enough cash to make up the difference.  Thank goodness.

Because someone did come along and buy it and did it up absolutely beautifully and stuck it back on the market several years ago.  It’s still for sale.  Let me stress here, if the people who own it ever read this – I think they’ve done an amazing job with the house, the interiors are completely unrecognisable from when I saw it.  It’s just that Lybster is an awkward place to live.  It’s about 13 miles south of Wick and I don’t think the bus service is that regular, so you need to drive if you want to commute to work in Wick.  It’s just that bit too far to be a comfortable commute to Thurso, let alone Dounreay, though I think people do.  And while Lybster is a lovely place to have a holiday in (indeed, Kirkstyle is also available as a holiday cottage here), it’s a tricky place to sell a house in, especially when other sellers in the local market are slashing their prices.  Compare £155,000 for Kirkstyle with a guide price of £175,000 for this 8-bed country house nearby:


Or a guide of just £67,000 for a 4-bed end of terrace:

Averon, Lybster

What the village really needs in order to thrive again, in my opinion, is for the hotel to re-open and, after a series of leaseholders opening and closing it, the hotel company has put it on the market for £350,000:

Portland Arms, Lybster

It used to be a really great place to go for lunch and hosted some of the best weddings in the county, hopefully someone will buy it and turn it into a thriving business once again.

UPDATE APRIL 2016:  Kirkstyle sold for the asking price earlier this month and the hotel reopened at the end of March.  Here’s to a bright future for Lybster!