Property and the Scottish Government Elections

After the budget the next highlight on the political map which may have some impact on the property market is the Scottish Government Elections at the start of May.  I have been reading the manifestos of the four major parties and although I am glad to see some mention of the property market in all of them, I am disappointed that there is not a bolder approach to assist the property market, thus helping the economy as a whole.  My proposals would be as follows:-

First Time Buyers

The Scottish Government should liaise with National Banks and create a first time buyer guarantee scheme.  Readers of previous blogs will know the mechanics of this.  This will assist the first time buyers to get on the market with a 5% deposit with the Government guaranteeing the remaining 5%.  My Firm’s Deposit Match Scheme, which we launched a few weeks ago in conjunction with a couple of major lenders has proved incredibly popular but this scheme needs Government backing and Government support to get the first time buyers back on the market. 

Home Reports

Scrap the Home Reports now, get rid of this tax on property sales and encourage people to get their properties on the market rather than putting up expensive barriers preventing this happening.

Rental Properties & Property Investments

I think that this should be encouraged and assisted.  I would call for a review of the HMO system targeting all properties that are rented out but making it more of a licence than can be transferred and also tied in with some specific home improvements.   Not only would this make all of Scotland’s tenants safer, it would improve the quality of Scotland’s housing. The current HMO Scheme is a barrier that restricts investment in the Scottish property market.

Social Housing

I think that the Scottish Government should re-assess their views of social housing, look at more innovative ways to fund the creation of social housing, in particular housing association development.  Given that development land is at its cheapest price and will only increase in value, now is a great time for housing associations to be building up a land bank for future development thus creating a new generation of social housing for Scotland.

Whichever party wins power I hope that they put the Scottish property market to the top of their agenda.

ps  Interesting post script today – Labour have announced their first foot scheme which relates to new build and is very close to what I have been asking for to help first time buyers. A number of leading builders have announced their backing of the scheme. I need to see this in more detail and I only wish it related to all types of property not just new build but this is a very positive step towards helping 1st time buyers and the Scottish property Market.

Lindsay Darroch

Partner and Head of Property

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