Once again our Brian Gilmour was on the call Kaye programme on BBC Radio Scotland to take calls on all things property. Here’s the show;
Kaye: Very shortly. But a quick word with Brian Gilmour, our property expert first, just to tease up for the surgery which will be opening it’s doors in just, I don’t know, about 10 or 15 minutes. Good morning to you, Brian.
Brian: Good morning, Kaye.
Kaye: How are you?
Brian: I’m excellent, thanks. Good to see you back.
Kaye: Good, yeah, thank you very much. I was actually listening the last time you were on which was a fortnight, every fortnight. I love it. I am a bit of a property geek. I often think of why do we get so excited about houses? I mean why?
Brian: Our home is our castle.
Kaye: Well, I guess that’s true. That’s true. I see though, saying that in the news this week, there’s been spike in elderly people renting, giving up their castle. Do you see that?
Brian: A phrase I’ve never heard of before … “Silver Splitters” is part of the reason.
Kaye: Oh, I don’t like the sound of that to be honest. It made me cross my legs.
Brian: There’s a whole lot of reasons. One of it is we’re living longer. So the people who were living in rented accommodation are living in rented accommodation longer. So that’s a simple bit of it. But also the increase in the number of people who are getting divorced over the age of 60 so one of those partners is then moving into rented accommodations. So there’s a couple of reasons why people are doing it. I think we’ve seen in the last 10 years … We’ve seen the percentage of the rented stock that’s to older people going from 5.2% to 8.9% so that’s a reasonable increase.
Kaye: Is it a good option? I mean, I don’t know. It’s quite a cultural thing in this country, isn’t it, that we think rented is not as good in some ways as buying your own property. There’s always that impulse to have your own, whereas in other countries in Europe, they’re much more comfortable with-
Brian: Yeah, the Germans and the Swiss, they’re at plus 50% I think it’s something like 52% live in rented in German and 60% live in rented in Switzerland. So we’re a bit at odds and don’t forget pre-1980, 30% of people in Scotland lived on their occupied property and 70% lived in rented.
So there was a big culture switch in this country with the right to buy and that led us into the idea that your home is an asset and not just a home. Which might also explain some of the people moving in to rented. You might see some people who think, “well, as an asset and then reach an amount of time … Maybe not go as much as I would like in an amount of time … But I’ve got this huge asset in my house. I can sell that and then move into rented and I’ve got a lot more cash in the bank,”.
Kaye: Well that’s it, and also you just don’t have the worry. I mean, if your boiler breaks down then you phone somebody up and say “the boiler’s broken down”, you’re not worried about the roof. If you fancy, “do you know what, I think I’ll move, I’ll try the South of France for six months,” then off you go!
Kaye: I’m into it, I’m telling ya’.
Brian: I was speaking to one of my friends, Alan Benson, who’s in Milnbank Housing Association in the east end of Glasgow and they get regular inquiries from people who bought their council house about 30, 40 years ago … Very cheaply … Who’ve paid off the mortgage looking for a sale on lease back. So sell it back to the housing association and then rent it off them so they’ve stayed in their home.
Kaye: Right, and that worked well for everyone, doesn’t it?
Brian: Yeah. Stomp back into rented accommodation and people are getting the good landlord that the housing association is.
Kaye: See, I told you, Brian Gilmour was good. Anything you want to know about property, this guy has got the answer. Brian’s going to be back in a brief while … Very shortly, actually. So give him a call. Anything you need to know about property. 0-8-0-8-5-9-2-9-5-0-0. Or you can text “80295”.
We’ve go texts in already, Brian. I’ll give you a wee quicky just before you go. From Ivar in Sterling, he says “My son works on the cruise ships,” lucky him. Wouldn’t I love to work on the cruise ships. The love boat. Do you remember? Anyway, I digress. “He’s paid in US dollars, he can show earnings for the past three years. Would he be able to get a mortgage? He’s also been saving into the government’s fund so it’s for first time buyers. Ideally he and his wife would want a 95% mortgage costing around 600 pounds a month which they feel they could afford.”
Brian: 95% mortgages are more challenging to get. I did a review, there’s survey out that first time buyers are struggling to find the deposit. I did a review of the top 10 First Time Buyer rates and they were all 60-80%. So 95% is difficult to get. However-
Kaye: A lot of turn around isn’t it from 10 years-
Brian: 10 years ago you could get 125%. You could get the value of the house plus another 25% on top.
Kaye: Really? Was it that far out?
Brian: That’s why the Northern Rock closed it’s doors. So he should be able to get one if he’s got three years of verifiable income. The biggest challenge will be the saving amount that he needs.
Kaye: Right. Okay, so, he’s gonna have to get that together.
Thank you very much for now, Brian. 80295 is your text number. You can call Brian directly on 080859295. You must be in to places around Scotland. You know the names. I could see your wheels whirring there. Now don’t tell me if you think you’ve got it but do you think you’ve got it?
Brian: No, if you ask my wife, she’ll tell you anything that sounds like a crossword puzzle clue I can’t get one of them right.
Kaye: Oh is that right?
Brian: Yes, I’m useless.
Kaye: I do think that your mind has to work that way. People who do love these kinds of puzzles and are really into them but, you know, it’s like … You can feel them going oh ho ho ho. But everyone else is like woosh.
Brian: Yeah, that’s me.
Kaye: It’s good to listen to the clues anyway.
Keep guessing folks. This place name has much in common with Ayr, Annan, and Irvine when it was first recorded and more in common with Cullen, Lys, and Inverness, and clue number 3: It may refer to a diver. So let’s have your guesses please. And let’s have your questions and your calls for Brian Gilmour, our property expert. Whatever it is you want to ask him about – property, get in touch, pick up the phone. 08085929500.
A couple of questions in by texts just to start us off, Brian. Steph of Livingston says she wants to “chip in regarding 95% mortgages,” you mentioned that earlier. “My husband and I bought our first home in April this year with a 5% deposit and a 95% load to value mortgage with RBS. We didn’t find this difficult to get and this also includes myself being a part time contractor and my job currently pays 600 pounds a month for a mortgage. So I believe you’re listener, who’s looking for something similar, could manage to do it just as easily as we did.” So obviously-
Brian: They are out there.
Kaye: Are they coming back?
Brian: The challenge is, the better rate that they offer, the greater the criteria the lender is looking for in terms of your credit rating. So strangely enough it can be just as difficult to get a mortgage if you’ve never had credit as it is if you’ve had a bad credit rating because you can not track record of ever paying off debt.
Kaye: Right, okay. There are other things that are taken into consideration, then. I mean it is very much a new story at the moment, it’s it. That young people in Scotland, applies here too, are generally facing a much longer period of time before they can get themselves into position to buy property.
Brian: Yeah, I mean there’s been various surveys out talking about people getting into their mid-30’s … I think that the BBC did some research last week and found that the average first time buyer at a saving rate of 10% of the salary will take 10 years to save up the deposit that’s required on the average first time buyer mortgage. So that then becomes compounded because if people want to live in their own accommodation, then they’re going to move into rented. So the ability to save up that deposit, that length of time gets stretched out because money’s going out into the rental. So you’re finding people into their mid-30’s saying before they’re becoming a first time buyer, they’re getting onto the property line of it.
If I look at myself today, it’s an auspicious day for me. 20 years ago today I moved into my first home.
Kaye: Oh really? That’s nice.
Brian: It was 42.5 thousand pounds with a 5% deposit. Salaries haven’t changed that much. It didn’t take me as long to save up the two grand that I needed for that compared to an average first time buyer. Purchase price in Scotland at the moment is 117 grand. And if you’re only needing 20% of that …
Kaye: Well you’re right because salaries haven’t actually moved that much. But my first property I bought when I was 23 I think and it was 28 thousand pounds. And the lucky thing for me because it was a boom, I sold it two years later for 56 thousand pounds. Which was my lottery win in my life, it’s all been downhill since then, I’ll tell you Brian. But there’s not many people getting those lottery wins now and that was such a bonus. And even now I think “Gosh I was lucky,” and the way the market is at the moment, young people just aren’t going to get that boost.
Brian: No, and as I say, it’s taking them longer to get onto that, that property line which gets back to what we were discussing earlier about. The mentality towards renting changing, and we’re seeing people at the older end of the spectrum, more people renting, and people on the younger end of the spectrum seeing that their first home away from home will likely be rented accommodation … That you can see the mentality might change a wee bit about the idea that you must own your own home.
Kaye: Well we’ve got Sadie on the line who desperately needs some advice. Good morning, Sadie.
Sadie: Good morning.
Kaye: Good morning. How are you this morning?
Kaye: Why are you so tired?
Sadie: I’m living in somebody else’s home at the moment.
Kaye: Oh no. What’s happened?
Sadie: Basically my house sold back in July. But since then we’ve been trying to agree or even hear about a moving in date. We suggested the 20th of October. We didn’t hear anything back. The lawyer later went to the property sellers but there was a lack of communication between the two lawyers, coincidentally they’re both in the same office. So we got a phone call last Wednesday that the new owners were moving in last Friday.
Sadie: We made a choice. We could’ve withdrawn but this is quite a hard to sell area. Plus the perspective property sellers … the husband is on dialysis so he’s gonna drive down to the local hospital to get his dialysis up here. So we cannae let them down, we’ve got to carry on. So the way the house is divided up, there’s a two-bed flat at the front of the house so they’ve moved into the rest of the house.
Kaye: Oh, god.
Brian: Can I just clarify? Sorry, sorry, morning, Sadie. Can I just clarify. You sold your home and you’re now affectively a tenant in a couple of rooms in your old house.
Sadie: I have a kitchen, have a bathroom, have a bedroom, and I have a sitting room. But apart from that, there is the house that belongs to the new owners. So the old house belongs to the new owners. But they’ve agreed that we can stay here until the suggested date of moving in at the 20th of October. But they’re talking over the phone lines all day, and the broadband, there’s really no point in me getting a separate lane put in because I’m going to move shortly.
Kaye: Sadie, I don’t know how we can help you except to say, “do you want to come and stay for the weekend?”
Sadie: Don’t tempt me.
Brian: Can I just ask, Sadie? You said the lawyers were both in the same office. Sorry, where do you live?
Sadie: Stranraer but the lawyers were in Ayr.
Brian: Right, okay. And you said that the Stranraer market economy is not doing so well with the-
Sadie: Yeah, no.
Brian: And you said that both lawyers working in the same office.
Kaye: Yeah, let’s not name the lawyers please.
Brian: But did they notify you in advance to say that the people buying were using the same legal firm?
Sadie: Yes, we signed a disclaimer-
Brian: Right, okay, so that’s fine.
Kaye: Is that unusual, Brian?
Brian: Yes it is. Provided you’re comfortable with your lawyer, there’s nothing wrong with it. So there should be nothing wrong with it as long as they declare it. What I don’t understand is how you got into a situation where matters were done verbally. You didn’t really get any progress until, all of the sudden, it’s put on you at the last minute that you’ve got-
Sadie: Absolutely. Yep.
Brian: If that is the case, what I would do is I would go through the formal complaints process of the legal firm. I would be looking to … If everything that you said is true, I wouldn’t be too adamant about paying a bill for the start.
Sadie: No, this morning I’ve already got that sorted.
Brian: And I’d also be looking at … If you wanted to move out of the home, I’d be having a conversation with them about paying for you to live somewhere else for the being of time.
Kaye: Obviously Brian, you’re giving expert advice here, but Sadie, you sound like such an obliging person.
Sadie: Well really, we’re in our sixties. And my brother-in-law who stays in Stranraer to help us, he’s 69. Our neighbour, he had a bit of space for us to store some stuff in so if we bend over any more our backs were gonna break.
Kaye: Yeah. It sounds to me like you’re a wee bit too obliging, Sadie. And it’s a lovely quality to have but maybe you need to stamp your heels a wee bit here.
Sadie: Yes, that’s kind of where I’m getting at.
Kaye: Oh, God, I really feel for you. That’s a difficult situation.
Brian: That is difficult.
Kaye: Because you don’t want to fight with your lawyer, do you?
Brian: No, and I understand that the market, the Stranraer economy is not performing well so you don’t want to lose a buyer. If they’ve got special circumstances for their move-
Sadie: And they were moving up from Darby.
Brian: Yep. So with the special circumstances with their move, you don’t want to risk losing them. I think the legal firm in wherever they are should be bending over backwards to do absolutely everything for you here and you should be asking for everything and make sure you know the formal complaints process and go to the Loss Society’s website just to check over if you need to take things further – if you need to escalate things further. Just see what you’d need to do if you went to the Loss Society about this.
Kaye: Ruffle a few cages, Sadie. You should. And good luck.
Sadie: Thank you very much for your help.
Kaye: Thank you Sadie.
What a nice lady, eh?
Brian: Far more accommodating than I would’ve been.
Kaye: Well, absolutely. But there’s a time and a place to rattle a few cages.
I told you the time and the place, name the place, let me just check what’s happening. Anyone else got a correct answer? Nope. Elsie in Bearsden says “is it Lead Hills?” No it’s not. Kellen is saying “Would it be Thurso the length being the major ports – no it’s not Thurso, I’m afraid. You’ll have to keep guessing on Name the Place at 80295 and keep your questions coming for Brian Gilmour our property expert.
We’ll speak to Hazel after this and we’ll probably running after the news so we’ll be speaking to Steven after that.
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Kaye: You’re listening to The Kaye Adams Programme. Our Property Surgery is open with property expert Brian Gilmour here to take any questions you have about any aspect of property. We’ll run this after the news so keep your calls coming in. 08085929500.
Hazel’s here from Aberdeen, morning Hazel.
Hazel: Good morning.
Kaye: Good morning. How are you this morning?
Hazel: Fine, thank you. Thanks for taking the call.
Kaye: No worries. Explain your situation, you may have to wait till after the news to get the answer because I’ve go one eye on the clock-
Hazel: That could be a wee problem because I’ve just got to leave-
Kaye: Alright well then do it quick, Hazel.
Hazel: Very quickly. A very common situation, I believe. I’m actually retired, living on my own in a family sized house. I would love to find somewhere suitable to downsize to. I don’t want a flat. I really would prefer not to have to rent. But the problem is is that I have to sell first before I can buy. And these days there are no such things as bridging loans so I really find myself in very difficult situation. All the developers around here in Aberdeen … Difficult market, now, but all the developers are offering executives family sized houses. Nobody is building new homes for people in my situation which I think is a serious failure of the market considering the number of people who are living on their own. So I’m really just looking for a bit of advice, here.
Brian: Okay, Hazel. First of all, you’re doing the right thing in the Aberdeen market to sell first, put the money in the bank. Worst case scenario, you can live in rented accommodation whilst you’re looking around for the ideal property, that’s the right thing. There are some builders-
Hazel: I really didn’t want to have to do that. There are issues about that sort of thing for people in my situation because one of the problems that we have to think about is things like moving doctor surgeries and so on which is really not a great idea at this stage in life.
Brian: No it’s not but at least you’ve got that as a fall back if needs be. In terms of taking the worry away, that you know that’s a worse case option, you’re not gonna end up homeless. There are some builders who will build bungalows and bungalows always sell really well and they’ll be a bit small. The challenge for the builder is they want to maximise the value of the land and they’ll have bought the land in Aberdeen at the top end of the market, the market’s falling, so that’s why they build bigger houses, unfortunately.
Kaye: Although it’s not what Hazel wants, taking the time to look around and the potential to rent it is more than likely, is it?
Brian: I think so because I don’t see the number of smaller properties that you’ve identified, Hazel, the number of smaller properties being built are few and far between. At the time that the builders would’ve bought the land which would’ve been 18 months, two years, 3 years ago, in a more buoyant market, so they’re building bigger houses to maximise what they can get off the land because the house price have fallen. However, what I would do is speak to the builders. Just go and speak to a couple of builders who are building and see-
Hazel: I’ve tried to do that, actually. I’ve tried to explain to them, you know, that if I-
Kaye: Listen, I’m afraid we’ve hit the News there. We don’t have a solution for you, Hazel, but we’ve got a bit of an explanation. We’ll come back to the Property Surgery after the news with Linda Sinclair.
Anyway, we’re talking property, we’ve got calls coming in for you. Let’s speak to Steven first. Good morning, Steven.
Steven: Hi, good morning Kaye, good morning Brian.
Brian: Morning, Steven.
Kaye: What would you like to ask Brian, Steven?
Steven: Two weeks ago when he was on, a woman phoned and said that she was thinking of buying a flat in Edinburgh and her own house was mortgaged under her husband’s name and she paid the mortgage off. And she wanted to know whether or not … If she bought the flat in her name, would she still be liable for this new property taxes brought in. And this situation affects myself because my wife and I are thinking of buying a flat in Glasgow for medical reasons but we want to keep our own home. Now when I checked up the Scottish government, they say that you’re still liable to pay all these taxes. So I was just wondering if Bryan could clarify that for me.
Brian: Yes and you’re governed by the Matrimonial Homes Act clearly, in this. So under the Matrimonial Homes Act, even if the property … And I said this two weeks ago, I subsequently went away and checked with my lawyer to verify who’d been through exactly the same process, and he got two answers. One was the property’s in her name, so it’s separate but when you’re quizzed again, each MRC’s attitude is, you get the benefit of the protection that the Matrimonial Homes Act brings you. So if you’re in a partnership and you live in the properties only in one person’s name, the Matrimonial Homes Act gives you the protection of a shared home. So each MRC’s attitude is, buying the second property as a second property even if you’re not classed on the title of the first one. So each MRC would pursue you if the found out about it. Each MRC would pursue you for the 3% additional Stamp Duty charge.
Steven: Yeah. I was just saying we checked up, “you’ll be treated as one person,” but it was a wee bit confusing because of what you said but you’ve cleared that up, now.
Kaye: So obviously you have to declare all these things. I mean if the found out about it … It’s all out there.
Brian: Yes. You have to declare it. It’s all out there. And if you don’t declare it, you know, people do lots of things with one other property, think “it won’t matter, nobody will notice,”. People often buy a second property, “I’m only making a hundred pounds a month on renting this out, I’ll not bother telling anybody about it,”. And sometimes they do, nothing happens for a year, two years, three years, but each MRC do then find out and come and knock on the door and you suddenly have a bigger tax bill than you would want to do so you always declare these things.
Steven: We’re not looking to rent it out it’s just that we stay in Perth and my wife’s got a lot of hospital appointments down in Glasgow and it would be a lot easier for us so we decided we would buy a flat in Glasgow and the mortgage for the house … In our own house, which is paid off in only one of our names, and we thought because of this additional property tax they have in Scotland, it’s absolutely killing us. We tried to sell our own house and that’s what killed-
Brian: Well it’s actually taken a section of the market out largely because a lot of investor buyers have stayed back from the market because there’s an additional cost for them to buy a property. It’s UK way, the Scottish government have actually followed the example, I think it was George Osborne that brought it in, there has been a bit of publicity about the fact that the revenue that’s been generated from Stamp Duty since this 3% charge came in has actually dropped off a little so you can see it’s had an impact.
Kaye: What if you were in a long term partnership but not married?
Brian: You’re still governed by the terms of the Matrimonial Homes Act and as Steven said, it’s the Matrimonial Homes Act in civil partnership.
Steven: I think the only way around it, Kaye, is if I divorce my wife, you see.
Kaye: Well I was going down that road but Some things are more important, Steven.
Brian: Another one to throw in, you could always leave your wife and then you’re fine.
Steven: Just lay it there into the talk.
Kaye: Steven, I hope she’s not listening, you’re going to get your jotters. Good luck Steven. Kevin’s on the line now, hi Kevin.
Kevin: Morning Kaye and Brian.
Brian: Good morning, Kevin.
Kaye: What’s your situation, Kevin?
Kevin: It’s not a great one and I hope I don’t go on too long trying to hit the right points. We bought about five weeks ago and it’s been bought about a year prior to that buyer, developer, who had developed the property, sold it to us. We’re living in … Slightly embarrassing because I missed some quite obvious points. Before we purchased the house there was no ventilation in any of the bathrooms, all the storm water rolled off the roof, the downpipes were cut off at ground level and not running into drainage whatsoever. And shortly thereafter the total we had a survey done on the drains which costs quite a lot of money. I found that there was brick lodged in the pipe immediately below where you’d tied the new drains into the old clay.
He’s basically told us that he’s taken nothing to do, that he’ll give us x amount of money to cover the ventilation systems in the bathrooms but the amount he’s offering is basically going to cover one of four bathrooms in the property. Basically we’ve been running in circles just now and we’ve lost a lot of money due to the problems and we’ll continue to lose a lot of money getting rectified. I’m just wondering, all apologise because they’ve miss the downpipes and ventilation systems in the bathroom on agreement of a completion certificate but yet they’re telling us that they can’t put anything in force because they’d have to put the legal argument on us because we are now the owners and it wasn’t the previous owners, it was the developer.
Kaye: Miserable, isn’t it? When you move into a new house it’s supposed to be a big adventure, happy times. And then you get, you know, stuff like that.
Brian: There’s a number of aspects on this. First up, you say there’s a property developer and there are two types of property developers I’ve come across in my experience. Basically good and bad. The good ones and the ones who add value to a property and then sell it on and the bad ones who superficially add value to their property so they’ll use copious amounts of paint on window frames to hide points, they will do superficial improvements situations where they put a new frontage on the wiring so that the box looks brand new but the wiring that’s embedded in the walls … And it can be difficult to … You only find that out when that problem arises.
Kaye: Buyer beware.
Kevin: Just two things. In fairness, there’s a new heating system, has been rewired. I’ve had people look at that and it all done really well any decent person would’ve said, “right, I’m sorry about that, let’s get them rectified,”.
Brian: Well then this leads onto one of the points which is when you acquire a property there’ll be a home report on it. And a surveyor will have done the home report. Now, the home report is instructed by the seller but the possession of a home report is technically the surveyor’s almost neutral person in this, and then his report is transferred over to you … They’re taking responsibility to you. So some of the points that you pointed out here … The drainage would be something that you’re only gonna spot once you’re using the property. But some of the points in here, I would be going back to the surveyor who did the home report. Because the ventilation in the bathrooms should’ve been picked up by the surveyor and should’ve been mentioned in the home report. And the downpipes and other drainage points … Some of the superficial bits, so the bits that would’ve been noticed by the property expert looking around the property which is what the surveyor who did the home report is. So I would be going back to the firm who did the home report and identifying these points to them.
Kaye: Are the accountable?
Brian: They are accountable.
Kevin: Can I ask, are they accountable? Because these come out … The gentleman’s applied for the completion certificate seeing he’s done a lot of work to a good standard. These come out. They’ve missed these points. And they’ve given the completion certificate.
Brian: So the council are claiming that the completion certificate is in place and that has subsequently been issues with the completion certificate. This is one that would need to be run past a lawyer. I can’t see how the council would abdicate responsibility for … If they are now accepting that a completion certificate should not have been issued and these points should’ve been rectified prior to the issuance of the completion certificate. I understand the theory of what they’re saying, which is, “well, if we then say to the homeowner that these points are not right, I can get the appoint of the account to retrospectively go back to the previous owner and she we should have never given you the completion certificate,” because he can turn around and say, “well I wouldn’t have don’t the work at the time,”.
But I would argue, speak to your lawyer because there could be a strong case for compensation with the council. The two people I’d be looking at from your feedback about the developer actually did decent work, and perhaps some of these points were errors and he’s agreed to fix the ventilation in the kitchen … The two people I’d be setting my sights on are the surveyor who did the home report, and the council. And probably the surveyor would be the first protocol because the council probably involves speaking to your lawyer to enforce that through and that’ll cost payments.
Kaye: Kevin, listen, there’s not a simple answer to this one. There’s gonna be a lot of legwork and a lot of phone bashing if you get anywhere that way, I hope-
Brian: Can I also throw in, sorry, sorry Kaye, if you do go to the surveyor, don’t tell him that that’s caveated out of the report.
Kaye: Right. Okay.
Kaye: Kevin good luck with that one, you’ve got a bit of work on your hands there as unfortunately you do when you’re trying to track down these things aren’t you, but, you know, there’s a lot of money involved … I think it’s just also the disappointment because is it usually supposed to be an exciting time in your life where you move into your new property-
Brian: Oh you’ve built yourself up. There’s a dream home that you’re moving into and it’s not right and you’re exceptionally disappointed.
Kaye: Yeah. I know. And it can affect your whole experience so hopefully Kevin will get some joy with that.
Brian, thank you very much indeed for joining us as ever. We will see you in a couple of week’s time. Brian will be back to take your property calls in a fortnight.