Property Auction – A Great Success

I am pleased to report that our second property auction was a great success. The auction attracted more than 70 people and included residential property buyers looking for their next home and property investors.  Out of 59 lots in the auction, 9 properties are now under offer. Negotiations are ongoing for 8 further properties.

Following this success we will hold our 3rd property auction on the 30th October  at 10.30am in the Apex Hotel, Dundee. To register a property or to be kept up to date with all the properties being offered please register via our e-mail address propertyauctions@blackadders.co.uk.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner & Head of Property

Property Market Overview – June 2012

Given that we are now into the sixth month of the year, I thought it would be useful to give you a market overview. The positives for the first five months are that overall the Scottish property market continues to increase in activity. There has been an increase in the properties being listed on the market, a definite increase in sales compared to 2011 and there have been less repossessions coming onto the market. If we divide the property market between East and West we see the West still behind the East in terms of property market recovery. The East Coast, Aberdeen in particular, leads the way, with Dundee and Angus showing a good increase in activity and Edinburgh also showing signs of a pick-up.

The Blackadders’ property team has exceeded target each month so far in 2012 and we have a very high level of settlements in June. In terms of the legal profession, the public seem to be willing to pay a slightly higher fee to gain the experience of a property professional and are returning to their trusted legal adviser and specialist solicitor estate agent.

However, there is a down side. The debt crisis continues to rumble away in the background and the faltering recovery in the Eurozone and the related bad press is starting to have a negative impact on both commercial and private clients. I have noticed a tightening in criteria for all mortgages and it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to get funding for any form of property development. Although I have not seen any official figures, the number of first time buyers in the market continues to drop and my guesstimate is probably around 10% of purchases are first time buyers, considerably below the 40% level required for a healthy property market. This is caused by the general economic climate but also, and more predominantly, by the lack of products available to the first time buyer. 95% mortgages have been withdrawn for all but a very small minority of lenders. This is leading to a very unhealthy property rental bubble with former first time buyers being forced into renting properties at ever increasing rents and way above any mortgage payments that they would normally be making. There is currently an imbalance in the property market that requires to be sorted – further blogs to follow in relation to this.

I will monitor the levels of listings at the end of June to see if the Greek election and the subsequent economic summit has made people hang back. The next key date will be the middle of August which is when the majority of the Scottish schools return from their summer holidays – this is usually when we see a rise in property market activity through until the end of October. I do believe the long-term outlook for the property market in the UK in general, and Scotland in particular, is very strong – there is a shortage of properties being built, there are more and more people looking to buy properties and there is a huge pent-up demand which at some point will require to be filled which will lead to another property boom. We are currently on a knife edge and the rest of 2012 could either go one way – continued improvement, increasing activities and strengthening prices – or the other way – stagnation, no activity, no mortgage lending, faltering prices.

I will continue to report on these trends and welcome your comments.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner & Head of Property

Energy Performance Certificate – The Future

Most members of the Scottish public have not really picked up on the importance of the Energy Performance Certificate which was brought in at the same time as the Home Report.  This was a piece of European legislation that requires all properties to have an energy rating.  With comments on it such as “at night close your curtains to stop heat loss through your windows” it has been derided as another piece of European legislation adding an extra cost to the house selling process. 

The requirement is for all properties that go on the market for sale or for rent to have an Energy Performance Certificate.  It is now becoming clearer that the Energy Performance Certificate will form the basis of the Council Tax in the future.  There is already legislation in place that by 2018 if your property is under a certain rating you will not be able to rent it out.  Most Landlords have not noticed this and it will be interesting to see what impact this has on the rental market. 

I have long argued that the Energy Performance Certificate will form the basis of Council Tax going forward i.e. if your house is very efficient you will pay less Council Tax than a property that is extremely inefficient.  It will be interesting to see the consequences of this but one consequence I think will be to re-enforce the difference between new build properties and traditional properties.  At the moment new build properties on a cost per square metre have never looked better value compared to the cost per square metre of older property.  I also think we will see developers following Prince Charles’ line and building more eco-friendly houses.  Even now with new planning legislation new build houses are extremely energy-efficient with a smaller carbon footprint and also less cost per month for heating. 

Should anybody wish to discuss the implications of the Energy Performance Certificate then I would be more than happy to do so.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner &  Head of Blackadders Property

Assistance for Property Market

As readers of my blogs will know I welcome all forms of government assistance to the property market.  I am extremely disappointed by two recent announcements from the Scottish Government which I think are more smoke and mirrors than any real substance.  The first is the planned Stamp Duty Tax cut to kick-start the housing market.  When John Swinney unveiled his plan he advised this would kick-start the housing market and help more young people become home owners by wiping out the 1% tax for properties valued at less than £180,000.  The key problem to the Scottish housing market is the lack of support for first time buyers.  The average first time buyer property is less than £125,000 and therefore Stamp Duty does not figure in the equation for the vast majority of first time buyers.  I think the government is wasting a great opportunity to actually assist the housing market.  The other announcement unveiled was the ending of right to buy Council and other rented housing.  I would ask the Scottish Government to consider the following four point plan: –

  1. A first time buyer scheme with the government acting as guarantor for 10% of a first time buyer mortgage.  The first time buyer putting in 5% and a lender lending 95% mortgages at 85% mortgage rates.  This would have such a positive impact on the whole of the Scottish housing market and the economy in general and the government would not actually be spending any money unless the guaranteed mortgage went bad and the lender was unable to recover their 95%.  The default rates on first time buyer mortgages are actually very low so in a very simple measure the government could have a real impact helping first time buyers onto the property ladder. 
  2. Increased funding for housing associations and encouragement of a right to sell policy with the caveat that all money raised by property sales are used by the housing associations to build new properties. 
  3. Tax breaks and incentives for property investors.  There is an excess of low-end properties on the market that are not shifting due to the lack of first time buyers and there is a dangerous property rental bubble developing with rents increasing at an incredible rate and way above the rate of inflation.  Encouraging property investors to buy these properties and get them onto the market for rent would assist the property market as a whole and would also enable through supply and demand a cooling down of the property market. 
  4. Abolish the Home Report which is an expensive block on people putting their houses on the market.

If this four step plan was adopted we would see an immediate improvement in the housing market which would benefit everyone and I will continue to campaign for this and keep you advised in relation to any changes.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner  & Head of Property

Site Development

One of the many enjoyable aspects of my job is assisting clients in relation to site development.  This covers a whole range from major developers to an individual wanting to build a house in their large back garden.  The process involves finding out what clients want and then working with my contacts in the property world, including architects and builders, to ensure that they obtain the necessary planning permissions to either allow them to develop the site themselves or for the site then to be packaged and passed to my firm’s estate agency department with a view to marketing it. 

I have recently been involved with the Old Market Garden site on Balgillo Road which we have just started to market. The site consists of two plots and a bungalow in a prime Broughty Ferry location.  I am pleased to advise that it is attracting considerable interest already.  I attach a link for your information:

http://www.blackadders.co.uk/Property-Details.aspx?location=&type=&price=,&bedrooms=&onlylatest=False&keyword=balgillo&mode=List 

If you would like further information or discussion regarding site development then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner and Head of Property