Once again our Brian Gilmour appeared on the BBC Radio Scotland Kaye Adams Programme to answer all your property questions. Here’s the transcript of the show;
Kaye: Yes, this is Kaye Adams here with you on BBC Radio Scotland. Property expert Brian Gilmour is here and he’s gonna be answering all your property questions very shortly. Whatever you’re doing: buying, selling, renting, building, give him a call. 08085929500 or you can text on 80295. Now as I say, Brian Gilmour is here with us today to open his property surgery. And that was a door opening, Brian. Good morning.
Brian: Excellent sound effects, Kaye.
Kaye: Wasn’t that good? Brian, from Indigo Square Property. When’s the last time you got a row from your mum?
Brian: I was trying to recall, and I’m such a good boy. I’m such a good boy.
Kaye: Oh you wee smarmy thing. Look at him with that wee bit of hair that he just licks down. My mum just constantly says to me; “Where’ve you been? Where’ve you been? Where’ve you been?” That’s all I ever get off her. “Where’ve you been?” And I mean I’m quite a visible job. She kind of knows where I am, but she’s always on at me. So, Black Friday is… Let me see, I’ve lost track of time. It’s not this Friday is it, it’s next Friday.
Brian: Yeah. 28th.
Kaye: Yeah, and we’ve got used to that, haven’t we in some of the big retail shops, people just clambering over each other to get to bargains and stuff. Does it affect the property market? Or no?
Brian: Well if you’re using Black Friday as a time to get bargains, there sort of is a Black Friday. I worked for an estate agent who shortly after they crashed, to try to do something, had a sale event. It was on a Saturday and all the window was blacked out for two or three days beforehand, we get quite a bit of publicity. And since then I’ve seen two or three agents trying the same type of thing, where it’s a special event and some properties are discounted. But on the whole, it’s principally at this time of year, as we reach the end of November and through Christmas. You’ve got people who don’t necessarily want to be on the market in a different year. They’ve put their house on the market and they’d rather not go beyond Christmas, New Year, with the house still up for sale.
Kaye: And is that just an emotional decision?
Brian: Yeah, I think it’s just that-
Kaye: New year.
Brian: you’ve set yourself a benchmark that “I want all this to be sorted this year because I want to be moved next year. I want the kids’ school to be all sorted.” But it’s like-
Kaye: It’s like getting your room painted, isn’t it? It’s got to be done for the new year. It’s gotta be done for the new year. Why?
Brian: Yeah, give yourself a self-imposed deadline and then all economics go out the window because you’ve just created this nominal date in the diary that’s a decision as to when things have got to happen by. So there’s that reason. You’ve also got fewer buyers out there, so people might become a bit more realistic about when somebody does start making overtures. They may be interested in the price, people may start to think, I think the terminology we use in estate agency is a “motivated seller”. So they may be more inclined to say “Well there’s not that many people out there. Nobody else is talking figures, and this person is.”
Kaye: Right. I think by the way, Black Friday, somebody just corrected me, it’s the 24th. There you go. So is that… No, that’s next Friday, yeah. Generally how important is timing to buying and selling houses?
Brian: It’s really important because the economics with anything to do with sales is supply and demand. If you have demand low, then you’re not going to get the best price. The two things about “when’s the best time to buy” and “when the best time to sell” they sort of counteract in terms of the economics of it.
A good time to buy, is also a good time to sell because the reason it’s a good time to sell is because there’s lots activity in the marketplaces. There’s lots of people out there. So the springtime is usually a good time to sell.
It can be a good time to buy because you’ll have more choice because more people have got their houses on the market. But principally, that’s when the best prices are achieved. You’ve got lots of family home decisions are made are in springtime so that people can then get their kids into school the following summer. Then you get summer holidays, which have a wee bit of a dip. And then you’ve got the end of August through September, beginning of October period; that’s another time when the market’s quite buoyant, so it’s a good time to sell. So you’ve really got wintertime being the main time if you want to get a bargain. That’s the main time.
Kaye: I suppose it depends what you’re buying for. I mean, if you’re buying your dream home that you think you’re gonna be in for the next 20 years or whatever, then if you’re gonna have to pay a little bit extra that’s not such a big deal. You want to get the right house. But maybe, if you’re buying something you’re gonna be in for a couple years, or maybe people who are buying to let, then you know, wintertime they might think “I’ll get a wee bargain”.
Brian: Well you mentioned buy to let, and they’re good ones. I know some very sophisticated buy to let buyers who, they will even specifically look out certain agents. If you’re in an area where there’s two or three agents who are very strong in that area, and suddenly an agent who doesn’t normally sell in the area has a property up for sale, they’ll be looking out for that type of thing because that’s where an agent may get the pricing wrong. And time of year. So firstly, buy to let investors, they’ll be quite sophisticated about that. If you’re a first time buyer, you’ve got a bit more flexibility often about when to choose. So may be a good idea if you’re thinking “Twenty-eighteen is going to be the time that I’m going to buy”, to just think about look at the marketplace: “When is a good time to get good deals?”. And it generally is about January, February, and the middle of summer when family buyers are away on holiday and then November, December.
Kaye: Well, I mean, if there’s a good deal that you are looking for, then get in touch and mine Brian for a bit of advice on 08085929500. But any questions at all relating to property, he’s more than happy to help. We’ve got loads of questions in on text already. Brian, do you want to take one for a minute? And then it’s your turn to do the tea run. We’ve got a couple on mortgages actually, I might just put these together.
This one’s saying; “I’ve heard that you should keep a small mortgage so that the deeds are kept safe, is this true? What should you do with them if it’s not true?”
And another one saying; “My mortgage from the bank is now paid off. The bank has to discharge the security they hold on the house and I have to pay their legal fees. Do I need a lawyer? And if so, why?”.
Brian: You don’t really need a lawyer, on the latter question. You’re just paying the bank’s legal fees, so a lawyer’s involved anyway. And it’s really just to discharge your standard security, which is your mortgage, which is recorded at the Registers of Scotland. The Registers of Scotland has got your name and then it actually says in reality your lender actually owns your house. Not really you because they get first charge and then when you’ve paid off your mortgage you just needing a lawyer to go along to Registers of Scotland, complete the paperwork to get that discharged. So that’s what you’re paying for with your lender.
The first question about the title deeds… My title deeds are in a drawer somewhere in the house. You could ask a lawyer to keep hold of them. There’s no great need to have your mortgage provider or keep a small mortgage so that you’ve got somebody else looking after your title deeds if you think you can look after them yourself. Everything’s held online anyway.
Kaye: At least just remember where they are. See, when you said “a drawer somewhere” that just sends shivers up my spine because I’ve got so many important documents in “a drawer somewhere” and not a clue do I have where that is. I’d have to turn the place upside down. Anyway, you don’t need to hold a little mortgage, that’s the answer to the question.
Brian, thank you very much indeed. Brian’s gonna be back very, very shortly, so give him a call. Anything property related 08085929500 or drop him a text on 80295. Or indeed email at email@example.com
Those are questions on text, but let’s start with a call from James. Good morning James.
Caller(James): Good morning.
Kaye: Good morning. You’re through to Brian, James.
Caller(James): Hello there.
Brian: Morning, James.
Caller(James): The question was really about building warrants. I live in Edinburgh and we put in a building warrant application in August last year and we’ve still not got the building warrant approved. Just wondering if you can start work without the warrant?
Brian: It’s not advisable to start work without the warrant because if you don’t get it approved… Although I’m sure everybody said “It shouldn’t be a problem.”, and “It shouldn’t be an issue.” But if you don’t, then that is an issue. So I’m surprised that it’s taken so long. Have you had any feedback as to why?
Caller(James): Apparently the person in the council that was doing the warrant, ran off on sick leave. And it’s assigned to a person, to a particular planning officer, and we have to wait for him to come back off sick leave.
Kaye: That sounds depressingly familiar I have to say.
Brian: Yes, I’ve got a friend who worked in the legal department to deal with invest type of stuff and one of the councils, and it’s not an unfamiliar tale. I would be trying to put pressure on to see if it’s possible to change person. For example, if you were to submit a fresh warrant today, I doubt it’d be going to this person. I would be saying “Look, you’ve no idea how long this person’s going to off.” You can’t have your life be put on hold just because somebody’s off sick, and there’s probably a whole other circumstances in the council. I would be looking to speak to somebody in a more senior management position to see if you could move this on.
Kaye: Do councils… Sorry James. I was going to say do councils offer… And I’m thinking lot of big companies now will offer this, that whatever your inquiry is – whether it’s an inquiry, complaint, whatever – “We will seek to deal with this in a set number of days.”. Do councils offer that?
Brian: They usually do.
Caller(James): Not that I’m aware of. It’s my architect that’s been dealing with the council there.
Kaye: Yeah, but it might be a question worth asking. “What do you think is a reasonable period of time in which you would deal with these inquiries?” And if yours falls well out with that, then you’ve got a real kind of impetus to say well “You’re failing by your own standards, so do something about it.”
Brian: Yeah, I can’t believe that a workload of one individual who then goes off sick just has to pause forever. Until… I’m paranoid about how to phrase this after Martin’s tick… Pause forever, while you’re waiting for somebody to come back from sick leave or whatever reason that is. I think, is it two years is the maximum that somebody can be off on sick before a company starts to deal with it? I can’t believe that you’d have to sit and wait two years. I would be trying to be a bit more proactive. Maybe even go and see a local councillor. Often elected officials can put pressure on the staff within the council to make sure that things are pushed in a different direction.
Kaye: Yeah, well good luck with that James. It’s a lot of phone calls and a lot of time. As you say there Brian, it’s inadvisable to proceed without the building warrant. Have you known of instances where people have done that and what have the consequences been?
Brian: I’ve knowed of instances where people have proceeded with work and they’ve had things like a garage have to be pulled down.
Brian: So that would be more implying consent, but the principle-
Kaye: But they do follow through-
Brian: Yep, you’ve got to have your piece of paper in place. I’m sure everybody listening to this will have read the odd newspaper article every 18 months, two years, about some poor soul who’s having their house threatened with being demolished. So always make sure your paperwork is ticked and checked off. You just never know.
Kaye: Scott in Glasgow says; “Is it worth trying to haggle on the price of a new build house?”
Kaye: Right, okay. Very swift answer to that, yes. How much wiggle room do you think they have?
Brian: This is the best time, getting back to our Black Friday discussion of earlier. This would be the best time of year. Builders have yearly and half-yearly accounts, and most builders tend to run January-December. They will be wanting to get sales figures in right now. Right now is a very good time to walk into a builder’s and they will have a bit of wiggle room most of them. Five, Ten grand?
Kaye: Oh Really?
Kaye: Scott, get your coat on. Get down to the store house.
Brian: It may be add-ons. It may be that they do it a bit in add-ons of “We’ll carpet it. We’ll do… We’ll put up-”
Kaye: Baked goods.
Kaye: Yep. Yep. Okay, well that’s good advice.
June in West Lothian says: “Can you discuss the pro’s and con’s of buy to let, verses holiday let.”
Brian: Holiday let is more frequent. It’s peaks and troughs so you’ll have periods of downtime. Buy to let you have somebody who’s tied down to a lease, who is then there for a considerable period of time. There are more restrictions on buy to let in terms of smoke alarms, heat alarms, safety aspects that are legislative and you have to have them in place. From my own perspective, I would say the benefit of buy to let: it’s a longer term investment so you get guaranteed through the course of the year. The benefit of a holiday let is: in the peak time you can respond more quickly to the market and put your prices up if you want, if it’s a financial reason that you’re doing it.
Kaye: I suppose it would depend a lot on your own lifestyle, and you’re own time availability. Because holiday lets tend to need a bit more nursing, don’t they?
Brian: Yes. You’ve got letting agents, ten a penny, who will manage your buy to let property and if it’s a holiday let, you’re probably more likely to have to do it yourself or be more involved.
Kaye: On that kind of theme, someone asking; “Do you have to be a registered landlord when renting a house out?”
Brian: Yes. Absolutely. You register with your local authority. You register and then have to renew every three years. It is illegal to advertise a property for rent in Scotland without a landlord registration number. You can say the number is pending, provided you can evidence that you’ve applied for it. Because some councils take a couple of days to get back, and sometimes some of them take a couple of weeks.
Kaye: Right. Does that apply also when people are doing… And I know other websites are available, but an Airbnb type of situation?
Brian: No. Getting back to the previous text. You do not need a landlord registration number for holiday lets and that type of thing.
Kaye: Oh and that would be classed as a holiday let. Interesting.
This is our property expert, Brian Gilmour here, for our fortnightly property surgery. So any questions that you have at all related to property: renting out, selling, buying, letting, renting, from the other side of it, get in touch 08085929500. Text us on 80295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
An interesting story that I spotted this week, Brian. Now this is a government initiative, which is a 4 million pound self-build loan, offering basically financial backing to people who want to build their own homes to be available from this year. Apparently it was successfully piloted in the Highlands.
Brian: Yes. It’s to encourage people to move away from just going to the box-standard builders. Get people more involved in the construction of their home. It’s not quite a 4 million pound loan to go out and build some houses, because that would build about 30 houses. It’s a fund to assist people, if they are looking for mortgages. So maybe assist them with some of the cash flow issues of that, where they can get some money up front. It’s also a fund to assist people who are looking to promote self-build, or looking for new ways of self-build. To try and make it easier for people to construct their own home. So it’s not a straight forward you go to the government and they’ll help you out to build it yourself. It’s also to those companies who are looking to help promote self-build methodology that might result in a quicker build time, an easier build time for people.
Kaye: Why would anyone self-build? Is it always a labour of love?
Brian: I think so. I think a lot of the time it’s for people wanting to do something different. You’ll often get builders who will do a self-build project. Perhaps the type of builder whose been doing extensions and they see the opportunity that a site becomes available to build something bespoke for their own home, which fits their needs. So they might have bigger public group, just something you wouldn’t ordinarily off a builder. So that’s that.
Programmes like Grand Designs-
Kaye: Which I love!
Brian: Yes, I do too! And every single one of them demonstrate one of the things that people need to do carefully. Every single one of them takes longer because the people have run out of their contingencies.
Kaye: And costs more!
Brian: Yes. They’ve run out of their contingencies so it costs more and they’re having to eke it out. The general rule of thumb that I often hear from builders about self builders is “Whatever you estimate it’s going to cost, double it-”
Kaye: Double it?
Brian: – and that will give you the sufficient comfort that you’ll be able to get it finished.”
Kaye: Gosh. We’ve got one final wee text in here and this is from Mister Notoriously Anonymous, which I quite like. “My father owns a commercial shop property, a retail shop. We’re looking to sell the property. After checking with estate agents, they advised the value would be around 50 thousand pounds. However, they also advised that if I convert this into a house it would increase the value to 125 thousand pounds. How difficult is it to convert from commercial to residential?”
Brian: Shouldn’t be too difficult. You will need to go through the planning system because the job will be Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 consent as to various types of it. So get it converted back into residential if the estate agents are recommending that, that implies to me that it’s in an area of residential so it shouldn’t be too much financial to get it converted back. £75,000 to play with there in terms of the fat out cost in architects. Should be able to get something done in that.
Kaye: Yeah, definitely worth looking at. There you go, Mister Notoriously Anonymous.
Brian, thank you very much for joining us.