The Herald - Scotland's Homes - - Front Page - THE VOICE OF PROP­ERTY Bev­er­ley Brown

OUSES that lie empty for long pe­ri­ods are not good for neigh­bours, the lo­cal com­mu­nity, and above all else, the 150,000 peo­ple in Scot­land who, ac­cord­ing to the housing and home­less­ness charity Shel­ter Scot­land, are on the wait­ing list for a home.

How­ever, the an­nual re­port pub­lished by the Scot­tish Empty Homes Part­ner­ship (SEHP), which is funded by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and fa­cil­i­tated by Shel­ter Scot­land, reveals that although al­most 700 pri­vate empty prop­er­ties were iden­ti­fied and brought back into use in the last year alone, more needs to be done to ad­dress the prob­lem given that there are cur­rently around 34,000 longterm pri­vate empty homes in Scot­land.

Among its rec­om­men­da­tions, SEHP is call­ing for leg­is­la­tion of a Com­pul­sory Sale Or­der power for va­cant and derelict land and prop­er­ties that would al­low lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to force own­ers who fail to bring their prop­erty up to a stan­dard and back into use, to sell on the open mar­ket.

A hand to shift

SOME­TIMES it can take a while to find the one elu­sive buyer for a house and as an avid watcher, I am aware that some prop­er­ties have been wait­ing pa­tiently for over a year.

If the prob­lem is not pre­sen­ta­tion or price (and there are sell­ers who, con­trary to their agent’s ad­vice, have an un­re­al­is­tic fig­ure in mind), there’s some­thing to be said for tak­ing it off the mar­ket for a while chang­ing your agent – or chang­ing the pho­to­graph (with­out nam­ing names there is one house in the High­lands still be­ing shown un­der three feet of snow). A cor­rectly priced, well-pre­sented prop­erty will al­ways se­cure a buyer.

A help­ing hand

GOOD to see house builders across Scot­land are pitch­ing in to boost lo­cal com­mu­nity clubs and char­i­ties. In Aberdeen, CALA Homes has an­nounced a two-year spon­sor­ship deal with In­verurie Locos Works F while fur­ther south in Air­drie, a charity foot­ball fes­ti­val spon­sored by Bell­way Homes, raised £565 for Em­brace, a charity that pro­vides pre­ma­ture baby warm­ers around the world. And Mac­tag­gart & Mickel Homes is do­nat­ing £1,000 to Glas­gow-based men­tal health or­gan­i­sa­tion The De­pressed Cake Shop.

Buy-to-let on in­crease

YEAR-ON-YEAR, the num­ber of buy-to-let (BTL) mort­gages has in­creased; yet re­search from Money­facts.co.uk shows that the pro­por­tion of deals for new land­lords has shrunk to a record low. Fi­nance ex­pert Char­lotte Nel­son, said: “As first-time land­lords don’t have a proven track record in manag­ing rental prop­er­ties, lenders see this as a greater risk, which is mak­ing the num­ber of first­time land­lord deals re­main rel­a­tively static. The ad­di­tional reg­u­la­tion in the BTL mar­ket and the added un­cer­tainty fol­low­ing the Brexit vote, means even more lenders may re­con­sider whether first-time land­lords are a safe bet. Nev­er­the­less, high rents and rock­bot­tom mort­gage rates mean that BTL is still an at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for as­pir­ing land­lords.”

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