Ray of light for property market

As readers of previous blogs will know, one of my main concerns is the lack of support for first time buyers in the property market.  This is primarily due to lenders tightening up their lending criteria and refusing to break the 90% loan to value rule.  I was pleased to hear from contacts in the USA that the housing market there is starting to show signs of recovery and the banks are now providing 95% and 97% mortgages.

I have been in discussions with a major High Street lender regarding a variety of mortgage products and I am delighted that due to those discussions we can now launch the Blackadders Deposit Match Scheme.  In practice, this means that if we are able to reach a deal on a property for at least 5% lower than the Home Report valuation the lender will class this as a 5% deposit requiring the purchaser to fund a minimum of a further 5% and thus treating the deal as a 95% mortgage.  This product is available for all purchasers although I do think it will be of particular interest to first time buyers. I think that this will start the release of the housing chain and will be a welcome development for purchasers and sellers.

This is a very exciting development and one that I believe will mark the beginning of an improvement in the housing market.   As I have mentioned before, to get a self sustainable property market we need to get the number of first time buyers over 40%, i.e. the number of first time buyers in the market needs to be more than 2 out of 5 of all purchases. This scheme will assist those who have small deposits or those who require to retain funds to pay for home improvements or contribute towards the purchase outlays such as stamp duty.

This is another exciting initiative that we are delighted to be part of and shows our commitment to getting the housing market moving.

I will report on the success of the Scheme in further blogs but in the meantime should anybody require further information then please do not hesitate to contact either myself or another of the Blackadders Property Team on 01382 342222.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services

Blackadders – first solicitor/estate agent firm to launch iPhone Property App in Scotland

In the last few years estate agents and conveyancers have been challenged to provide the best possible service at the best possible price. To step up to this challenge we have embraced the use of the latest technologies and techniques available. In 2009 we launched our new website and property system, complete with a client interaction area. This secure login area allows our clients to track the progress of their property sale at a time that is convenient for them. When anything significant happens, such as a viewer booking an appointment, the system automatically sends an update to the client and it is recorded in the system. Any comments we receive back from that viewer are posted on to the system. The client can either choose to receive a feedback call from us or they can login to the system and check for updates at a time that suits them. The system also allows prospective buyers to enter their property criteria and as soon we have a property match it will send out the property details to that prospective buyer automatically.

Our commitment to be at the cutting edge of the legal and property sectors means that we are always looking at new innovations to maintain that position. Following the positive feedback we received after the launch of our website and our commendation award at the DADI (Drum Awards for Digital Industries), it seemed like a natural progression to design an App that would allow those looking for a new home to search our entire portfolio of property for sale and allow our clients to access the client interaction area while on the move.

Although the Scottish property market is showing small signs of improvement we still need to ensure that our clients’ properties are seen by as many people as possible. We hope that by giving people access to our property portfolio through many different sources and allowing clients to access information at the touch of a screen, it will speed up the sale of property and improve the market further.

The key consideration when we were designing the iPhone App was to ensure that the interface was simple to use and that there was synergy between the App, our property system and our website.  We worked with local digital firm Avian on the project for several months and have produced an iPhone App that not only looks fantastic but is user-friendly and has some great functionality. The Blackadders App allows you to search by location, property type and price; view full property details with images, descriptions, floor plans and maps; book a viewing and even submit a Note of Interest. In a tough economic climate we believe it’s important that we stay ahead of the game and continue to develop and use the technologies that are out there to try to make the process of buying and selling a home less complicated and less stressful.

Let us know what you think – download the FREE Blackadders iPhone App from the iPhone App Store.  Search for ‘Blackadders’ to download.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services

Multi speed property market recovery

I was very interested to read a report carried out by Savills which provided analysis of the last 15 years of land registry data.  The conclusion of this report is that the UK property market is very much following previous trends in that the property market recovery is being led by the top end properties i.e. the least affordable properties in the most affluent areas.  As Lucian Cook, Director of Research at Savills stated: “The bottom end of the market does not appear to have the potential to bounce in line with the top end, now or in the foreseeable future.  Its recovery may only be possible if and when mortgage lending frees up or as investors start to see potential in the local private rental sector.”

This report very much coincides with my feelings in respect of the Scottish property market in general and the Dundee market in particular.  We are seeing good activity in the middle to top end of the market with listings being ahead of targets.  I am anticipating that sales will follow this trend, however, the lack of first time buyers is holding back the bottom end of the market with again the lack of first time buyers causing the major problems.  Readers of previous blogs will know my thoughts regarding the problems that first time buyers face and the knock on effect this has on the market. Interestingly, I was reading a report regarding the Welsh property market which has now seen first time buyers dropping below 20%.  This is the area that must be tackled.  A recent ARLA report predicts a trend away from owner occupier from 70% to 60% and is also predicting a drop in the registered social landlord i.e. council housing and housing association with the big growth coming in the private rental market.  This would certainly be a big social and economic shift and I will issue a blog on this topic shortly.

In the meantime prices for medium to top end properties are starting to slowly increase with prices for traditional first time buyer properties at best holding value.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services

Lenders still cautious about UK real estate

More than 1,000 senior lenders with a real estate loan book have been surveyed to establish liquidity and lender attitudes in the UK. The results provided significant insight into the depth and composition of the market.  A Report commissioned by CBR Ellis undertaken by their Debt Advisory Team has found that there are 69 lenders open to new business in the UK and a number are lending only cautiously and most are employing conservative criteria against which they assess opportunities.  As I have said in previous blogs this cautious approach is very much holding back the property market and is in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Government needs to take action to encourage lenders to support the housing market and support the economy.  Anything that increases competition will increase lending and this would be a welcome move.  I will keep you advised should I hear anything further.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services