Following on the New Year’s theme I thought I would list, in no particular order, my hopes and requests for changes to the property market:-

1) The abolition of the Home Report in Scotland. Readers of my blogs will know that I am an avid campaigner against the Home Report in Scotland.  I find the recent Scottish Government 5 year review of the Home Report laughable.  Where is the evidence to show a reduction in the number of surveys being conducted due to the Home Report?  This does not reflect my own experience and given that the RCIS are now one of the biggest campaigners in favour of the Home Report leads me to draw my own conclusions.  Having been involved in a number of purchases, where as well as the Home Report, a refresh of the Home Report has been required and the lender has carried out their own survey, I cannot understand where this evidence has come from.  In my mind the biggest issue with the Home Report is still the conflict between the fact that it is the seller who is instructing the Home Report but it is the purchaser who is relying upon it.  I also have numerous complaints from clients regarding the poor information contained within the Home Report and a number of examples of Home Reports where the valuations are either far too high or far too low, both having negative consequences for the seller.  I would urge the Scottish Government to scrap this tax on sellers.

2) LBTT – whilst I welcome the changes to Stamp Duty, changing it from a Slab tax to a more progressive tax, I think the Scottish Government’s bandings are wrong. These will have a negative impact on the property market, in particular for the aspirational purchaser who is looking to buy at £350,000 to £400,000.  I would urge a rethink of this rate.

3) Mansion Tax – whilst I believe that there needs to be further mechanisms put in place to take the heat out of the property market, I think that the Mansion Tax is anti-aspirational and is a very large mallet to crack a small nut.

4) Leading on from point 3, I would urge the UK or Scottish Government, depending on devolution, to look at some form of amendments to Capital Gains Tax for houses.  I would propose that if someone sells their sole or main residence within 5 years of purchasing it then there is a sliding scale tax on any gain above a certain level. I think the funds raised should be used to create a housing fund to assist the housing market in times of economic downturns.  The rates on this can also be used, also in connection with the LBTT,  to take any assist the housing market should it start to overheat.

5) A formal fund set up to assist first time buyers. While there has been an increase in the number of first time buyers coming on to the market, I worry there is a potential generation in the UK that will never be able to get onto the housing ladder.  It is fundamental for the property market in particular and the economy as a whole that a free flow of first time buyers exists.

6) New-build Fund – I think there should also be a fund created to assist people purchasing new-build properties. As well as assisting people to move up the housing ladder and free up much needed stock, schemes like the Help to Buy have proved invaluable in assisting the construction industry get back on to its feet.  I think further support is still required.

My next blog will be about the City of Dundee.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner & Head of Property

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