Half of Scots think house prices will rise, despite independence

Independence could lead to an increase in buying with friends and family

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The Independent Online

Despite concerns about the effect of a Yes vote on the property market, just over half of Scottish residents in a new survey said they expect house prices would rise in the next five years in an independent Scotland.

While 53 per cent of the 1,000 people polled by Access Legal appeared generally optimistic about house price prospects, almost a third said that they expect to see a rise in co-buying with friends and siblings in the next five years if Scotland gains independence. Another 10 per cent would buy with a family member to get a foot on the property ladder.

"It’s an uncertain time for the Scottish housing market," said Steve Reading, Associate for Conveyancing  at Access Legal. "Nobody is really clear on what to expect. Ultimately it’s dependent on a combination of elements including the all-important currency debate and mortgage lending process. Whether a yes or no vote comes as the decision of Scottish Referendum, there could well be challenges ahead as our market is still recovering. As a conveyancing firm, we see first-hand the effects that big changes and booms and busts can make to our society.

"That said, it’s encouraging to see that a large proportion of Scottish people are feeling positive about their housing market. The Scottish nation may have a lot to gain from independence, we just don’t know what is going to happen at this stage. The market is lower risk because house prices across Scotland haven’t been on such a rollercoaster like those across England and mortgage interest rates may well not increase like suggested. It’s all a waiting game."

The report also showed that nearly three quarters of those polled believe buying a home has become harder because of more stringent lending criteria, with a quarter citing stamp duty as a barrier to homeownership.

According to the latest figures from LSL Property, house sales in Scotland are at a six-year high, but overall house prices grew only 0.2 per cent in July to £164,483 and prices dropped in over half of Scotland.

"A Yes vote would usher in a further 16 months of uncertainty," said Gordon Fowlis, regional managing director of Your Move. "A Scotland outside the UK would open the floodgates to the real questions of currency, exchange rates, mortgage risk, and property taxation. A No vote doesn't guarantee clarity either, but the mist of ambiguity would clear sooner.

"The property market exists on sentiment and security," said Paul Smith, CEO at haart. "The Scottish vote will bring months of uncertainty, especially if it’s a ‘Yes’ vote and this will most definitely cause disruption to the Scottish property market. We are very likely to see a buy-to-let investor flight to safety from Scotland back to England if Scotland breaks away.

"Those investors who want to be safest, like the Greeks and the French, will take refuge in London, the unwavering global investor hub or to thriving English university towns where returns are guaranteed. Our call to Scotland is not to scare away the big bucks."

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