Monday, 25 March 2019

Who is to Blame for Crisis in the Bo’ness Property Market?

‘A Scotsman’s Home is his Castle’ is (almost!) the phrase that was coined in Victorian times as the UK has a reputation for being a country of home owners  ... but the truth could be further from the point, because in a league of the top 46 economic nations of the world, where owning your property is permissible, the UK is only ranked no.37.

As I have mentioned, at the end of the First World War, 77% of people rented their home (the vast majority renting from a private landlord as Council Housing was still very much in its infancy). Homeownership rose very slowly in the 1920’s and started to grow as the economy grew after the Great Depression. However, after the Luftwaffe had flattened huge swathes of housing in the early 40’s, the priority was to get people into clean and decent accommodation ... so Local Authority’s (Councils) took up the baton and they built large council estates in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

As the UK economy got back on its feet in the middle part of the 20th Century and wages rose, people decided they wanted to own their own home instead of renting. Throughout the post war decades, it became easier to secure a mortgage. Interestingly, by 1977, 61.6% of 30 to 34 year olds were owner occupiers with a mortgage compared to 8.7% of 30 to 34 year olds being in private rented accommodation (the remaining either being in council housing or living with friends or family). Ten years later, in 1987, we saw some significant growth in homeownership, as 68.2% of 30 to 34 year olds had a mortgage and only 4.6% of people privately rented. A decade later and there wasn’t much change in home ownership as, in 1997, the homeownership figure was 68.3% but private renting had jumped to 12.1% in the same 30 to 34 year old age group.

Move on another ten years to the 2007 figures, and this showed a slight drop in homeownership to 65.8% but renting had continued to increase to 18.7% (in the 30 to 34 year old age group). The latest set of figures shows that only 47.2% of 30 to 34 year olds had a mortgage and an eye watering 33.4% of 30 to 34 year olds privately rent.

When we look at the Bo’ness figures of homeownership, the latest census in 2011 showed home ownership in Bo’ness was 63.2% and private rented was 8.1%. Private renting will increase not because property has become more expensive but because 30 somethings haven’t got a council house to move into (because they were all sold off) – so they have to rent privately. The selling of council housing in the 1980’s (a subject I have talked about in a previous article in the Bo’ness Property Blog) artificially grew homeownership in the 1980’s, but as these people have got older, the younger generation didn’t have the same opportunity to buy their council house in the 1990’s, 2000’s or 2010’s. That is why, unless the council start building council houses by the acre, and hundreds of acres at that, private renting will continue to grow in Bo’ness.

So if you want blame anyone ... blame the Grocer’s daughter from Grantham – Mrs T …. but before you do – do remember in the 1970s, the UK was called the "sick man of Europe" by critics of the UK government, because of industrial strife and poor economic performance compared to other European countries culminating with the Winter of Discontent of 1978/9 and if it hadn’t been for her we wouldn’t be where we are today.

If you would like any advice on the Bo’ness property market, feel free to pop into our office at 6 Vicar Street, Falkirk for a chat, give us a call 01506 828096 or email me on

Monday, 18 February 2019

Bo’ness Buy to Let Property Bargains to be had ….. yields of over 11%

There have been a few properties ‘hanging around’ on the Bo’ness property market for some time now and the owners are beginning to reduce the prices as, obviously, they are keen to get them sold.

I have mentioned a couple of these properties on The Bo’ness Property Blog before so I thought that I would remind you of them and there reduced prices.

The first property is the 1-bed flat in South Philpingstone Lane in Bo’ness.  The flat, which is in good decorative condition, has a lounge, a separate modern fitted kitchen, a double bedroom and a modern bathroom with a shower over the bath.

The second property is the 1-bed first floor flat in Liddle Drive in Bo’ness.  It has a lounge, a separate fitted kitchen, a double bedroom and a bathroom with a shower over the bath.  There is a shared ‘garden’ area at the rear and on street parking.  The flat needs a bit of refurbishment – for example, the kitchen and bathroom are a bit ‘tired’.

The South Philpingstone Lane flat’s price has recently been reduced to offers over £40,000; let’s say is goes for £45,000.  I would expect that you would get rent of £425/month which gets you to a gross rental yield of 11.3%.

The Liddle Drive flat’s price has also recently been dropped this time to offers over £50,000; you may get this property for a cheeky £52,500 or more likely a less cheeky £55,000.  I estimate that refurbishment costs may be £5,000 which would take the property cost in the range of £57,500 to £60,000.  I would expect that you could get a rent level of £425/month based on the flat being refurbished which would give you a yield of 8.5% - 8.7%.

We hope you find our posts useful.  If you would like some advice with your potential investment, please call me on 01506 828096, pop into the office at 6 Vicar Street Falkirk to see me or email me on

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #energyefficiency #privaterentedsector #prs #privaterentedsector

Monday, 11 February 2019

My Concerns About The Bo’ness Property Market

I am genuinely concerned about the Bo’ness property market, but in a way that might surprise you.

Zoopla announced that average ‘asking prices’ rose in the last six months by 0.8% in Bo’ness, leaving them 2.6% higher than a year ago.  

Looking at all the data on the Bo’ness property market, and putting aside the need for more houses to be built in the next decade to balance out the increase in population but not matched by a similar increase in housing being built, my research shows there is a widening gap between what property buyers want and what is available to buy. 

In a nutshell, many more buyers are looking for the smaller one and two bed properties (the typical semi detached and smaller terraced houses/apartments), whilst there is an over supply of the four and five bed properties, which are the typical large detached properties available. 

Demand for smaller properties comes from both first time buyers and the growing number of buy to let landlords, where it is more cost effective and efficient to buy smaller properties to let out compared to larger properties which tend to offer poorer returns. Also, landlords with larger loans (on those larger more expensive properties) will also be hit harder with the changes in the way tax is paid on buy to let investments that started being implemented from April 2017. 

I recently carried out some research on how various types of properties have performed in Bo’ness since the year 1999 and what struck me was just how different the various types of properties have performed over the last 20 years and what this means for our property market and for people trying to trade up from their starter home to their next home. In a nutshell, this mismatch of supply and demand isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s been happening under our noses for years! 

In the last 20 years, the average terraced house in Bo’ness has increased in value from £32,954 to £113,977, the average semi-detached house’s value has gone from £39,518 to £144,973 and the average detached house has risen in value from £86,447 to £259,403. Nothing seems amiss until you look at the percentage growth.  Average detached house price have from by 200.1%.  However, these have been outgrown significantly by semi-detached houses whose value has increased by 266.8% and terraced houses whose value has grown 245.9%.  This means that the gap between semi-detached/terraced houses and detached houses in percentage terms has narrowed enormously (this isn’t just a Bo’ness trend, it has happened all across the Country).

I am concerned because more semi-detached/terraces houses need to be built, not only in Bo’ness, but in Forth Valley and Scotland as a whole. In particular, there is specific need for more affordable starter homes for the growing demand from both tenants (and the landlords that will buy them) and first time buyers.

The government needs to face up to the fact that unless they can get the planners (to release more building land), the banks (to finance the building of house), the builders (to build houses) and themselves together to ensure long term plans can be made and implemented, this issue will continue to worsen.

It is estimated that the country needs 30,000 houses a year to be built to start to tackle the chronic housing shortage that we have. Last year, only 17,739 properties were built, the year before 16,270 and 14,890 in the year before that.

This means only one thing for Bo’ness’s landlords. Unless the Scottish Government start to rip up huge swathes of the Scottish countryside and build on acres and acres of green belt, demand will always exceed supply when it comes to property for the foreseeable future regardless of any short term fluctuations caused by the uncertainty of Brexit.

Therefore investment in the local Bo’ness property market as a buy to let investment could be the best move to make as stock market investments are possibly on the wane. Everyone is different and, trust me, there are many pitfalls in buy to let. You must take lots of advice and seek out the best opinion.

If you would like to explore how I can help you with your property investments, or should you require any advice about investing in the Bo’ness property market, wish to enquire about our Investment Analysis Reports, Property Sourcing, Residential Lettings or Property Management services, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01506 828096 or at

Alternatively please feel free to pop in and see me at our offices at 6 Vicar Street, Falkirk for a chat, the coffee is always on.

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #privaterentedsector #prs #firsttimebuyers #lettingagents #housebuilding #housingcompletions

Friday, 8 February 2019

Welcome to The Key Place’s blog - Confessions of a Letting Agent

Landlords often ask us what goes on behind the scenes at The Key Place and so we thought we would share our experiences, and what we have learned from those experiences, with you.

Property inspections – they are certainly not all dull, and this particular one did make me laugh!

One of The Key Place’s newer members of staff went to carry out an inspection at a property where we had long term tenants who had never given us previous cause for concern as a result of inspections. 

The staff member arrived back at the office looking somewhat stunned, to say that the tenants were growing cannabis plants in the bedroom – she saw a number of plants, underneath specialist lights. 

In recent times we have been made increasingly aware of the problems of cannabis farms in rented properties.  Staff have been briefed in being vigilant.

I decided to visit the tenants immediately to see if they could shed some light (no pun intended) on the situation, as this seemed very out of character.  I called and asked if I could pop by and took my office manager with me.  On answering the door, I asked the tenants outright if they were growing cannabis plants.  Amidst much laughter, they explained that it was not a cannabis farm but the tenant’s mother’s tomatoes, which they were looking after while the mother was on holiday.  They invited me in to have a look and sure enough I was able to confirm that those were indeed tomato plants!

This was a good learning curve for The Key Place staff member as we were able to educate her in how to tell a cannabis plant from a tomato plant in the real world!  And on the plus side, I was delighted with her vigilance. 

For information on all of The Key Place services, please visit our website,

Monday, 4 February 2019

Bo’ness buy to let opportunity for the ‘easy life’ landlord

The buy to let opportunity from The Bo’ness Property Blog is for landlords who want an ‘easy life’.

The property is a modern, second/top floor, two-bed flat in the ever popular Union Court development in Bo’ness which is just behind Tesco’s and along from the steam railway station.  The flat has a large lounge with ample room for a dining table/chairs, a fitted kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom with a shower over the bath.  The flat has double glazing gas central heating and residents parking.

The property looks to be rentable condition other than the it needs to have the rental property safety stuff done.  In addition, it is likely to be a low maintenance property given it’s newness.  Finally, its newness means that it has the mod cons that come with a newer property that tenants love.  Hence why I am saying it is a flat for the ‘easy life’ landlord.

Turning to the financials. 

The first flat is on the market with Paul Rolfe for offers over £90,000 and let’s say it goes for £97,500.  I would expect that you could get a rent level of £525/month which will give you a rental yield of 6.5% which reflects the newness the property and the higher than Bo’ness normal capital growth potential. 

We hope you find our posts useful.  If you would like some advice with your potential investment, please call me on 01506 828096, pop into the office at 6 Vicar Street Falkirk to see me or email me on

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #energyefficiency #privaterentedsector #prs #privaterentedsector 

Monday, 28 January 2019

Investment properties in Bo’ness come in all shapes and sizes

I recently attended a local meeting in Bo’ness where I got recognised as being the Bo’ness Property Blog chap (well you have to be recognised for something, why not that!).  A question I was being asked repeatedly was ''What is the ideal property to invest in in Bo’ness?''.  So I thought I would share my thoughts with you.

When considering a buy-to-let purchase what is believed to be a good deal will vary from person to person.  Everyone will have a different budget and varying preferences on location, style of property, condition etc as well as having different financial situations. That isn’t unusual, no different to everyone who has a different taste in music (I’m a 1980’s person myself with love of Abba if you are interested!).

I have always been of the opinion personally that “spreading the risk” is wise if you have a large portfolio.  A few flats, a few houses, a couple in the Drum, a few on Dean Road, some in the centre of town etc, makes sense. All your eggs in one basket is a risk if something unpredicted were to occur.

I am also of the opinion that buying two properties for £80,000 is better than one house at £160,000.  If you choose wisely two properties at £80,000 might rent for £450 a month each, but you’d struggle to find a £160,000 house that would rent for anywhere near £900.
Then there is the view that flats change hands more regularly than houses, so for longevity of tenancy buying a house might be wiser. But then these houses are rented by families with children, and children might lead to more wear and tear on the property, the “what if’s” are endless.

Also, you need to be nimble when investing in property and change your investment strategy to take account of market, legislative and tax changes.  Take tax as an example.  The ‘normal’ element of Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (the Scottish stamp duty to you and me) starts being charged at £125,000 and this is meaning that certain buyers buying properties at less than £125,000 to avoid this tax …. Although I would point out that the Additional Dwellings Tax element of LBTT normally applies to the whole cost of a buy to let property.

In addition, there are a number of fairly ‘fixed costs’ associated with renting out a property – for example, registrations and safety certificates – and, given their fixed nature, these are proportionally higher for cheaper properties.

One thing is for certain, demand for one, two and three bedroom properties in the rental sector is high which means that there is room to trial many different stratagies.

We have developed a checklist which guide peoples to work out what sort of property is likely to fit their circumstances.  Please get in touch is you want a copy.

In short, don’t assume.  Feel free to get in touch and ask me what I think about your plans. I would be happy to cast an eye over the property you are considering buying and let you know what I think the pro’s and the con’s of it are – call me on 01506 828096 or email me on

If you are a landlord or thinking of becoming one for the first time, and you want to read more articles like this about the Bo’ness property market together with regular postings on what I consider the best buy to let deals in Bo’ness out of the many of properties on the market irrespective of which agent is selling it, then visit my blog, the Bo’ness Property Blog, or sign up for our monthly newsletter, the Bo’ness Property News.

#bo’ness #boness #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning #privaterentedsector #prs #firsttimebuyers #lettingagents

Monday, 21 January 2019

A 1.5% Return with The Post Office or a 10.4% Return with a Bo’ness Buy to Let Property?

I had an interesting email from someone in Bo’ness a couple of weeks ago, that I want to share with you (don’t worry I asked his permission to share this with you all). In a nutshell, the gentleman lives in the Drum, he is in his mid 60’s and still working. He has a decent pension, so that when he does retire in a couple of years’ time, it will give him a comfortable life. He had recently inherited £100,000 from an elderly aunt. One option he told me was put it into a savings account. The best he could get from a reputable lender was a 2 year bond with the Post Office, which paid 1.5%, meaning he would get £1,500 in interest a year.  One of his other options was to buy a property in Bo’ness to rent out and wanted to know my thoughts on what he should buy, but he had concerns as he didn’t want to take a mortgage out at his time of life he was also worried about all the tax changes he had read about in the papers for landlords. 

Notwithstanding the war on Bo’ness landlords being waged by both the UK and Scottish Governments at the moment, the attraction of bricks and mortar endures for many. As our man is a cash buyer, he would not have to deal with the intricate cut to mortgage interest tax relief that will diminish, or even eradicate, the profits of some Bo’ness landlords. It’s true he would face the extra 4% in Land and Buildings Transactions Tax (the old ‘Stamp Duty’) to buy a second property, but with some good negotiation techniques, that could soon be mitigated.

I told him that buying a Bo’ness buy to let property is all about the total return on investment. True, he could put the money in the Post Office bond and receive his interest of £1,500 a year, or as he rightly suggested, invest in property in Bo’ness. The average yield (yield being the equivalent of the interest rate on the property) at the moment in Bo’ness is 6% per annum, meaning our potential F.T.L (First Time Landlord), should be able to, depending on what he bought in the town, earn before costs £6,000 a year. (However, I told him there are plenty of landlords in Bo’ness earning half as much again (if not more), if he was willing to consider more specialist investment types of properties – again, if you want to know where – look at my blog or drop me an email).

The bottom line is this, the success of investing in Bo’ness buy to let property versus a savings account with the Post Office (or whatever Bank or Building Society is offering the best rate) will depend on the performance of those assets. Unlike a savings accounts, with property the capital you invested can also go up (and yes, it can go down as well – more of that in second). Property values in Bo’ness have risen by 4.22% per annum on average over the last five years, meaning that on top of your £6,000 in rent, but also seen an uplift of £4,400 …meaning his overall return for the year would have been £10,400 (not bad when compared to the Post Office!).

...  but the doom mongers amongst you will say, property values can go down, as they did in 2008 and in 1988 and 1979. Yes, but after 1979, prices had bounced back to their 1979 levels by 1984 and went on to grow an additional 58% in the following four years. Then again, they dropped 1988 and did take 13 years to reach back to those 1988 figures, but the following six years (between 2001 and 2007) they then increased by an additional 66%. Now, according to the Registers of Scotland, average property values in Bo’ness currently stand 20.4% above the January 2008 (ie pre crash) level, and anicdotal evidence suggests that in the nicer parts of Bo’ness, we are well above these sorts of levels. Therefore, all this talk of property crashes seems unfounded.

… and what would that £100,000 get you in Bo’ness? A decent flat as well as a nice house in many parts of Bo’ness ... in fact, the world is your oyster. But which oyster?

If you would like a chat to find out more about investment property and property management in Bo’ness please pick up the phone (01506 828096) or pop in (6 Vicar Street, Falkirk) or email (