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.”