Increase your kerb appeal and make the best first impressions

Kerb appeal, a prospective viewer’s initial first impressions of your property, can play a huge part in the sale of your home. We all know that a successful sale is normally down to getting viewers over the threshold and if your property is looking its best, you will have a better chance of getting these all-important viewers through the front door.

Selling your property can be stressful so why not take advantage of these seven simple tips to help make the process a little easier:

  1. Fix the obvious
    If the front gate is hanging off its hinges or there are loose paving stones in the front path, have these items fixed.  If the doorbell is hanging off the wall or the front light is not working, these first impressions will be remembered.


  2. Keep the garden tidy
    It doesn’t take much to mow the lawn or give those borders a quick weeding and a well cared for garden implies a well cared for home. Also, think about adding some low maintenance pot plants to give instant additional colour to your garden.


  3.  Think about freshening up the exterior paintwork
    I’m not suggesting spending a fortune here but if you are able to give the exterior a quick freshen up, this can work wonders with first impressions. Peeling or cracked paintwork is never nice to look at.


  4. Keep windows and doors clean
    Bright sparkling windows will give the impression of a fresh and clean home. Also, have those gutters cleared out and get rid of any protruding weeds.


  5. Get rid of the clutter
    This applies to the interior as well as the exterior.  No one likes to see a messy garden or untidy rooms.  Clearing the clutter gives an impression of space and order and lets people imagine where they are going to put there own belongings. Remember the old saying of ‘less is more’ works wonders here.


  6. Keep it neutral
    Shocking pink might be your all-time favourite but it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  Keep it simple with low-key neutral tones as this gives the impression of a ‘blank canvas’ and lets viewers imagine putting their own stamp on the property.

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  7. Keep it clean
    This one might sound rather obvious but it’s often a point that many sellers overlook. An unclean home can be very off-putting and leave a lasting impression.  It can be such an easy thing to fix and all it will cost is a bit of elbow grease.


Taking control of the simple things can work wonders. It can help to increase your viewings which in turn will generate more interest in your property and hopefully achieve a quicker sale.  For more information or assistance with ideas, please contact our Property Department to arrange an appointment with one of our Property Managers.

euan stewart
Euan Stewart, Property Manager
Estate Agency
Blackadders LLP



I was very interested to read an article in The Times on Saturday 7 January 2017 regarding proposals from the UK Government to give tax breaks for a new generation of prefabricated home manufacturers.  This is part of a package to reinvigorate Britain’s failing housing market and to ensure that the government hits its target of building a million new houses in the next five years.  I do think that this is a welcomed proposal as there have been some significant improvements and innovations in the house building process recently and house builders of all sizes should be encouraged through tax breaks to investigate and take advantage of these new techniques.

This article in The Times coincided with a very interesting article I was reading by Graham Norwood in which he led the call for more direct housing i.e. council house/housing association properties, making the point over the last few years successive governments of varying political hues have failed to inspire the house builders to increase the amount of properties that are being built.  I am a great believer and in fact think that it is of fundamental importance to society that people have the opportunity to live in quality housing.  The scourge of homelessness and dilapidated properties is one that desperately needs to be tackled.

I feel that it is important that for both political and economic reasons that our society is underpinned by home ownership.  I have detailed in previous blogs the assistance that I think requires to be given to first time buyers and I would wholeheartedly support any incentives to help builders increase the amount of properties that are being built but I do also think that there should be a controlled increase in the amount of social housing being built.  I very much liked Graham Norwood’s suggestion of “community housing” although it is interesting that as part of his article he does state that he would much prefer to live in a privately owned property than one that is either council or community owned.  For this reason I would advocate a return to some form of controlled right to buy with strict rules and guidelines in relation to properties being built and, for every property sold under right to buy, a certain number would be required to be built to replace them.  I think that some form of right to buy or shared equity scheme could be used to assist people to actually get on the housing ladder and might be a means of controlling house prices.  I will explore this theme further over the weeks to come.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property 


Property Market Predictions – 2017

Firstly, apologies to the loyal band of readers who have not had a blog since June 2016.  This is perhaps a sign of me trying to comprehend a very unusual set of circumstances, also coupled with an increase in activity amongst my client bank.  Rest assured, there will be more regular blogs from now on.  Before I give you my predictions for 2017, how did I get on in 2016?  Well, as I have said before, 2016 proved the most unusual of years for the property market.  My catchphrase for 2016 was “cautiously optimistic” with a concern regarding various changes including the LBTT and additional dwelling supplement, the Scottish Government election in 2016 and also the impact of a vote on Brexit.  Whilst I am still awaiting the final figures for the Scottish-wide property market for 2016, my feeling is that they will show a contraction in the number of properties coming on to the market of an average of between 6% and 9%.  This is a considerable contraction and one which is showing in relation to the spike in house prices in certain areas.  I would refer you to a previous blog “Stagnation Not Bubbles”.  The change to LBTT and the introduction of the additional dwelling supplement has had a catastrophic effect on the housing market.  Once again 2016 showed the Aberdeen market continue to reflect the low oil price but Edinburgh and Glasgow also showed signs of a slight slowdown which was also reflected in the Dundee market.  Again, I await data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders to confirm this feeling.

In summary, instead of the second half take-off as I was expecting from August, 2016 continued to stutter along with the property market at best plateauing and at worst showing serious contractions in certain areas.

So what of 2017?  Unlike the last couple of years, I would say that I am slightly more negative and am probably best described as cautious, losing the word “optimistic”.  I think that 2017 will be unchartered territory as the impact of Brexit, be it soft or hard, starts affecting people’s buying power. The continued uncertainty of Indy 2, the negative impact of the additional dwelling supplement and Scottish Government policies that in general seem to be anti-home ownership but are certainly anti-property investor, will all have an impact.  I think that we will continue to see low interest rates and good mortgage deals and I suspect there will be a further contraction in relation to the size of the market, but possibly not as large as some commentators are predicting.   I have seen contraction predictions in excess of 10%.

In relation to the property market, my wish for 2017 would include increased assistance for first-time buyers at the lower end of the price bracket, a review of the LBTT bandings and the removal of the additional dwelling supplement.  These are very similar to last year and each deserve a blog in their own right.  Sharp-eyed readers will note that I have dropped my call for the removal of the Home Report but this by no means signifies an acceptance, rather more a “what’s the point of calling on deaf ears”.

In summary, I am predicting a 5% decrease in market activity with a slight increase in house prices averaging around the 2% to 4% mark.   Again, the figures I would urge readers to look at are the number of properties coming on the market in Quarter 1.

I wish all readers a Happy New Year and I will continue to keep you advised of trends in the property market.

Lindsay Darroch
Partner – Head of Property 

First time buyer assistance from builders firm

I heard with interest that Barratts have launched a First Time Buyer Scheme.  The scheme allows first time buyer’s parents to borrow 15% of the purchase price on an unsecured loan basis with a fixed rate of 5.4% and run for up to 12 years.  The scheme has no early repayment charges and a limited overpayment will be allowed penalty free.  This will enable first time buyers to have a mortgage of 80%, put down a 5% deposit with the remaining 15% funded by the parents through a loan from Hitachi.

As I have mentioned before, first time buyers have been badly hit in this economic downturn and the average age of a first time buyer is now 37.

I am in discussion with a national builder with development sites in Scotland to see if they would be in a position to offer something similar and I shall let you know as soon as I have some more information to report.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services

V & A Dundee receives £4.8 million pledge

Image: Design Dundee Ltd/PA

I was delighted to read in the Dundee Courier about the £4.8 million pledge received from the Scottish Government.  This would appear to be a key piece of the jigsaw and a catalyst for taking the V & A in Dundee to the next stage.

As readers of previous posts will know (14 October 2010), I think the importance of the V & A to the Scottish economy in general and Dundee economy in particular will be huge, and that the venue will go a long way to enhancing Dundee’s reputation as a leading UK city.  The knock-on effect for the property market will be more visitors, more purchasers, more people realising the huge untapped potential of Dundee.

I would urge everyone to support the V & A project and work together to ensure that it happens.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services

Property repossession numbers continue to fall

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) have reported that there were 8,900 homes repossessed in the three months to October, which was a drop of 5% compared with the previous quarter.  This is the fourth quarter in a row that numbers have dropped since they reached a peak of 12,200.  The CML have warned that the trend of falling repossessions could reverse.

I was recently at an insolvency conference and one of the topics discussed was that there had not been the explosion of repossessions in either residential or development property that was initially expected.  I think this is down to a number of reasons but the main one is that the historic low levels of interest rates means that borrowing for both individuals and businesses is affordable. From my discussions with various lenders, I think they are taking a more pragmatic view of what is the point of repossessing or taking over a development site if there is little or no chance of selling this on in the open market?

I think this flags potential problems when the economy starts to improve. As interest rates rise, this could make mortgage payment unaffordable, increasing the number of people who fall into arrears. As the property market picks up, I think lenders will be more inclined to repossess or take over development sites as they realise they have more of a chance of selling them on. I also know that a number of the large banks have set up their own holding companies and have transferred ownership of a number of development sites to these holding companies waiting for market recovery.  This is something that I will continue to monitor as it is likely to have a knock-on effect to at least the short to medium term house prices.

Lindsay Darroch
Head of Property Services

Bank mortgage approvals

I was concerned to hear that the number of mortgages for home buyers fell in August for the third month in a row. Demand for mortgages continues to be weak despite more properties coming on the market. Currently in Dundee and Angus there are 20% more properties coming on the market than there are sales. This is a concerning trend.

My view is that with the economic uncertainty and banks still showing an unwillingness to lend, there are a few more bumps on the road to economic and housing market recovery.

My watch word for this current time is uncertain and this re-enforces to me the importance of anyone contemplating getting involved in the property market taking the correct legal advice from solicitors with property experience.

Property Market Booms

I apologise for the delay in getting this blog to you, but this is probably the best example of the increase in activity in the property market that has been seen by me since the beginning of April.

At the start of the year I had been predicting growth in terms of the number of properties coming on the market anticipating a 10% increase from last year with sales following a similar pattern of increase.  Currently with 4 months in (1st February to end May) this figure is currently holding at more than 40% of an increase.  This is very positive and a figure that I will continue to monitor.  My view is that as people are still prepared to put their houses on the market then you can see that there is pent-up activity and there are people who are wanting to move house for whatever reason.  Readers of previous blogs will know my views on the Home Report but at least with the upfront cost we can guarantee that the people who are putting their houses on the market are genuine sellers. 

The recent prediction from the Halifax which shows prices dropping because of increased volume ties in with the figures that I am seeing for the East of Scotland.  My feeling is that because of the differences in the Scottish system and the underlying shortage of property, we will not see the drop in prices predicted by the Halifax but we should see a levelling off in price growth as numbers of properties coming on the market increase giving people more choice.  I will keep you up to date with the statistics as I get them.

Election effect on property market

Recently I was asked what effect I thought the General Election would have on the property market. The question was brought about by the heady excitement and much discussion of the recent leaders’ debate. My experience is that after a very slow start in January and February, the number of properties coming on to the market in the Dundee and Angus areas, whilst not quite reaching the boom levels of 2006/2007, are extremely good and way ahead of 2008.  The National Association of Estate Agents’ March report indicates that this is a pattern that is repeating itself throughout the whole of the UK.  Sales are also starting to follow this activity with an increase in the number of closing dates and many prices exceeding Home Report valuations.  My feeling is that the housing market is building up a momentum of its own and is not paying much attention to the General Election.  The economists seem to be indicating that whilst the UK economy remains weak, the threats of a double dip recession seem to be receding and yesterday the Council of Mortgage Lenders announced that there was a 24% rise in mortgage lending in March compared to February and the figure was also up on 3% on March last year.

Election effect on property market dundee scotland ukIt was disappointing that the property market was not discussed during the leaders’ debate and I would hope that this topic is covered in their final debate about the economy, particularly in relation to first time buyers.  Looking back to the end of the recession in the early 90’s, the property market stagnated due to the absence of first time buyers. With the current lack of mortgage finance and the need for very high deposits, I fear that this is a trend which may be repeated. My plea to the political parties is that they grasp this issue as first time buyers are fundamental to the growth of the housing market.  My suggestion would be for a Government backed scheme where banks lend the first time buyer a mortgage up to 95% with the Government acting as a guarantor for 10% of that mortgage. This would be for properties up to £150,000 and would only relate to first time buyers as per the recent Inland Revenue definition. The risk to the Government would only be if the person defaulted and with tighter restrictions, this should be minimal.  The scheme could be funded by changes to the Stamp Duty regime (perhaps adding an extra band for properties worth more than £2 million) plus changes to the Capital Gains Tax rate for people selling properties other than their sole or main residence within a 24 month period.

Unless more help is given to the first time buyer there is a danger that a whole section of property will go into stagnation both in terms of value and also condition and this will have a negative impact on the property market as a whole.