New figures from the British Bankers Association advise that mortgage lending in 2015 rose by 6%.  They also advised that monthly mortgage approvals soared 24% year on year in December 2015.  This is very positive and shows a slight conflict in relation to the property market figures.  My feeling is that there was a slowdown in Quarter 4 2015 and that January got off to a slow start but has picked up at a frenetic pace in the last two weeks.   As I have mentioned before, the figure that I am really looking for is how many properties come on the market in Quarter 1 2016, as this will be the litmus test for the rest of the year.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property


The Council of Mortgage Lenders has advised that mortgage lending for home buyers dipped by 9% in November.  It also advises that the number of loans to first time buyers in November was down 8% month on month.  I have a mixed reaction to these figures.  On the one hand volumes are higher than a year ago but these figures potentially show a slowing housing market and this is a trend that will need to be monitored.  As I have said previously there are always mixed messages from housing market statistics but these figures certainly warn that there is no room for complacency.  I will continue to monitor the market and report.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property


Following on from George Osborne’s speech in Cardiff a few weeks ago there has been a raft of economic data indicating a massive global slowdown.  I was very interested to hear an economist indicate that all of the data and trends are very similar to those of early 2008. These similarities include: Oil and other commodities slowing, the Chinese stock market dropping, global economic slowdown for both developed and developing economies and a slight apprehension developing in the market place.  If we look further back in history to the Great Depression of the 1920’s the esteemed economist Milton Freedman blamed the start of this on the increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve which was in response not to a stronger economy but rather to contain financial speculation.

As I have discussed in previous blogs, whilst I think we are correct in looking at economic data and should be concerned about the general economic outlook from a property perspective, my fear is still that the situation is more akin to the early 1990’s when we saw a stagnating property market caused by a lack of stock and opportunity to purchase.  This stagnation only started easing in the late 1990’s as the house building of the mid 90’s started to work its way through the system.  As readers of previous blogs will know the data that I am focusing on for the next few months is the number of properties coming on to the market and the confidence of builders and developers.

I think that we are entering into choppy waters as far as the general economy is concerned but my view is that property should provide a safe haven.  In this economic climate I would urge the following:

  • A rethink on LBTT rates and the 3% surcharge for second properties.
  • A rethink on the change to mortgage relief for property investment.
  • I would urge the Bank of England to defer any increase in interest rates for the foreseeable future.
  • Continued support for first time buyers

As always interesting times!

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property

Another Nail in the Home Report Coffin

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have recently announced that they are removing rental figures from Home Report valuations. Whilst this does not have an impact on the majority of house purchasers, it does have an impact on property investors who are taking out mortgages.  Mortgage lenders involved with buy-to-let transactions will now be insisting upon property being re-surveyed and will not accept Home Reports.  This is another example of where Home Reports are, in my opinion, a waste of money for sellers and lead to extra expense and administration in the process.  I would urge the Scottish government to remove the compulsory nature of Home Reports or at the very least  remove the valuation aspect of it.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property

Postscript: I have recently purchased a property for a client which is in a very good area but it had been languishing on the market for a considerable time. On investigation, we discovered the asking price had been set too high. Interestingly, the asking price was the same as the Home Report valuation which was around 10% too high and the market reinforced this view. Whether this valuation was a case of the surveyor getting it wrong or manipulation from sellers or their agents is another matter. A blog will follow shortly.


The CML issued a study last week advising that landlords are displaying considerable financial resilience and are continuing to respond very positively to the property market.  Three quarters of landlords did not foresee any problem servicing their mortgage payments.  The study also advised that rates rose by 1.5%.  Interestingly, there was an article in the Daily Telegraph suggesting that landlords who borrow 75% of a property price today will be losing money each month by 2021.  The main reason for this is the change in the tax rules and the limitation of mortgage relief.

If done correctly and with the correct advice and planning, property investment can form part of a person’s financial planning strategy.  I am still hoping as well that the Chancellor will reconsider some of his more draconian plans.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property


Never has the title of this blog been more true in relation to the plethora of statistics in relation to the housing market.  I was interested to see the announcement by the Halifax that UK house prices rose by 9.5% in 2015. This conflicts with the report from the Nationwide the month before advising of a 4.5% annual increase.  However, what is beyond doubt is that on average, house prices are rising, driven mainly by a shortage of supply and an increase in demand caused by improving economic conditions and confidence.  There is the usual caveat in relation to geographical area, school catchment area, type of property and price band.  Unless there is significant change in the supply, I do think that in the short term, we will see a continued increase in house prices but my feeling is that with tax changes and economic conditions, 2016 will see a more normal rise of between 3% and 5%.  I will keep you advised of trends.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property

January 2016 – Fixed Estate Agency Fees

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Due to high levels of demand we urgently require additional housing stock and so for the month of January we are offering a fixed estate agency fee of £750*.

If you are considering selling your home and would like to find out how you can take advantage of this offer then please contact one of our property consultants who will be happy to help you:

Aberdeen:         01224 452750
Dundee:            01382 342222
Edinburgh:        0131 202 1868
Perth:                01738 500600
Arbroath:          01241 876620
Forfar                01307 461234

* terms & conditions apply

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property