Monday, 19 August 2019

23% of Bo’ness Tenants’ Salary goes on Rent

The subject of the affordability of renting in Bo’ness came up in a conversation I had with a Bo’ness landlord the other day and how that would affect tenant demand. Everyone wants a roof over their head and, since the Second World War, owning one’s home has been an aspiration of many Brits.  However, with rents at record highs, many are struggling to save enough for a house deposit.

Let’s be honest, it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of paying the rent and bills and not saving, but even saving just a small amount each month will sooner or later add up.  The Government tried to help in a small way when George Osborne announced such schemes as the Help to Buy ISA, where the Government will top up a first time buyers deposit.

Therefore, I thought I would do some research into the Bo’ness property market and share with you my findings. Bo’ness tenants spend on average just over a third of their salary to have a roof over their head.  According to my latest monthly research, the average cost of renting a home in Bo’ness is £514 per month.  When the average annual salary of a worker in Falkirk District stands at £26,624 per year that means the average Bo’ness tenant is paying 23.2% of their salary in rent. 

You see one the reasons for rents being so high is property prices being high.  As I have mentioned before, there is a severe lack of new properties being built in Bo’ness.  It’s the classic demand vs supply scenario, where demand has increased, but the number of houses being built hasn’t increased at the same level.  Also, Bo’ness people aren’t moving home as often as they did in the 80’s and 90’s, meaning there are fewer properties on the market to buy.  If you recall, a few weeks ago I said since Autumn 2007 the number of properties for sale in Bo’ness has declined year on year.

So, the planners in Bo’ness haven’t allowed enough properties to be built in the town and existing Bo’ness homeowners are not moving home as much as they used to, thus creating a double hit on the number of properties to buy.  This is a long term thing and the continuing diminishing supply of housing has been happening for a number of decades and there simply aren’t enough properties in Bo’ness to match demand, these are the reasons houses prices in Bo’ness have remained quite buoyant over the last 5 years.

However, things might not be all doom and gloom as originally thought, as a recent Halifax Survey (their Generation Rent Survey) suggested more and more people may be long term, if not lifelong, tenants. In fact there is evidence in the report to suggest that the perception of how difficult it is to get on the housing ladder is vastly different between parents and people aged 20 to 45.  It seems from this survey that the state of the UK economy has shifted priorities quite significantly in quite a short space of time.  With fewer people able to save up the deposit required by mortgage lenders, more and more people are continuing to rent.  This delay in moving up the property ladder has driven rents across the UK up as more people were seeking rental properties.

It is often said that more people in central Europe rent for longer or never own their own property. The last two census in 2001 and 2011 show that proportionally the percentage of people who own their own home in Britain is slowly reducing and, as a country, we are becoming more and more like Germany.   That isn’t a bad thing as Germany is considered to have a more successful economy, one of the main stays, often quoted, is because they have a much more flexible and mobile workforce, (which renting certainly gives) and from that, they have a higher personal income than in the UK.

Therefore, if we are turning into a more European model and the youngsters of Bo’ness and the Country have changed their attitudes, demand for rental properties will only and can only go from strength to strength, good news for Bo’ness tenants as wages will start to rise and good news for Bo’ness landlords, especially as property values in Bo’ness are now 0.8% higher than year ago!

Whether you are currently a landlord, thinking of becoming a landlord or just have an interest in the Bo’ness property market, I would be happy to have a chat with you about my, to borrow a phrase from Mastermind, specialist subject being the Bo’ness Property Market.  Call me for a chat (phone us on 01506 828096), email me (, pop into the office (6 Vicar Street, Falkirk) or visit The Bo’ness property Blog (

#bo’ness #boness #bo’nessproperty #bonessproperty #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning

Monday, 12 August 2019

Where are the Twenty Somethings going to live in Bo’ness?

My parents bought their first house in the 1960’s, they were in their early 20’s. Interestingly, looking at some research by the Post Office from a few years ago, in the 1960’s, the average age people bought their first house was 23. By the early 1970s, it had reached 27, rising to 28 in the early 1980’s. 

This year alone, 158 people in Bo’ness will turn 28 ... and dare I say it a similar number will do the same in 2017, 2018 and each year beyond that ... year in year out, the conveyor belt carries on ... where are the Bo’ness youngsters going to live?

Ask a Bo’ness ‘twenty something’ and they will say they do not expect to buy until they are in their mid thirties, seven years later than the 1980’s. Some people even say they will never be able to buy a property and the newspapers have labelled them ‘Generation Rent’, as they are people born in the 1980s who believe that they have no hope of getting on the property ladder. One of the major problems facing young Bo’ness people is the large deposit needed to get a mortgage… or is it?

The average price paid for an apartment in Bo’ness over the last 12 months has been £93,206 meaning our first time buyer would need to save £4,700 as a deposit (as 95% mortgages have been available to first time buyers since 2010) plus a couple of thousand for solicitors costs. A lot of money, but people don’t think anything today of spending a couple of thousand pounds to go on holiday, the latest iPhone upgrade or the latest 4k HD television. The deposit and solicitors costs could soon be saved if these ‘luxuries’ were with held over for a couple of years but attitudes have changed.

Official figures, from the Office for National Statistics, show the average person in Bo’ness earns £524 per week meaning they would still comfortably be able to get a mortgage for apartment.

I was reading a report/survey commissioned by Paragon Mortgages. The thing that struck me was when tenants were asked about their long term housing plans, some 35% of participating tenants intended to remain within the rented sector and 24% intended to buy a house in the future, with the proportion of respondents citing the “unaffordability” of housing as the reason for renting privately increasing from 69% to 74%.

However, time and time again, in the starter home category of property (i.e. apartments), nine times out of ten, the mortgage payments to buy a Bo’ness property are cheaper than having to rent in Bo’ness.  It is the tenants’ perceptions that they believe they can’t buy, so choose not to. Renting is now a choice. Tenants can upgrade to bigger and better properties and move up the property ladder quicker than their parents or grandparents (albeit they don’t own the property). Over the last decade, culturally in the UK, there has been a change in the attitude to renting and, unless that attitude changes, I expect that the private rental sector in Bo’ness (and Scotland as well as the UK as a whole) is likely to remain a popular choice for the next twenty plus years. 

With demand for Bo’ness rental property unlikely to slow and newly formed households continuing to choose the rental market instead of purchasing a property, I also forecast that renting will continue to offer good value for money for tenants and recommend landlords pursue professional advice and adopt a realistic approach to rental increases to ensure that they are in line with inflation and any void periods are curtailed.

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 #property #buytolet #realestate #ownermanagedbusiness #retirement #retirementplanning

Monday, 5 August 2019

Why Bo'ness landlords need to know how to identify Japanese Knotweed

The Bo'ness Property Blog today features an article from a guest contributor, Jake Ryan of Wise Knotwood Solutions all about Japanese Knotweed ….. something that all landlords need to be be aware of.  Over to Jake …..

Spring begins with a warning for landlords

It has been estimated that Japanese Knotweed costs the British economy an astounding £166 million each year. The invasive plant has been listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the worst invasive species globally so it is critical that landlords familiarise themselves with the destructive plant, especially in spring.

The spring of 2018 was dominated by snowy and icy conditions that caused destruction all over the U.K. However, when it comes to invasive plants, this destructive weather was actually a blessing in disguise as it delayed the emergence of Japanese Knotweed by up to two months. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said this year as the unusually warmer weather has led to Japanese Knotweed emerging even earlier than normal. This is a serious concern and both landlords and tenants must remain vigilant as the invasive plant has the potential to devalue a property by tens of thousands of pounds.

Why should landlords worry about Japanese Knoyweed?

As Japanese Knotweed becomes dormant in winter, the best time to tackle the plant is in spring before it has the opportunity to grow to dangerous heights. Japanese Knotweed often goes undetected as due to its attractive appearance, homeowners tend not to notice the plant at all. This makes the invasive plant even more dangerous as if it remains undetected. Knotweed is capable of causing disastrous consequences to the structural integrity of a building. The plant is even capable of growing through the tiniest holes and gaps in masonry and concrete if given the opportunity. Japanese Knotweed should be of significant interest to any landlords looking to sell their property as an increasing amount of banks are now refusing to provide mortgages on properties affected by the plant.

How to recognise Japanese Knotweed in Spring

Spring is arguably one of the best times to spot Japanese Knotweed as the plant is at its weakest at this time due to it becoming dormant in Winter. Knotweed can become increasingly costly to treat so it is important to treat it as soon as you notice the plant.

Depending on weather conditions, Knotweed will normally first re-emerge in March in the form of pink and red buds shooting up from the ground. The plant grows a dangerous rate of 10cm daily so it is appearance is prone to change. The plant in its early stages is often compared to asparagus spears that will quickly develop into thick and hollow canes. These canes are similar in appearance to bamboo but come with distinctive pattern of purple speckles. As the weeks go by and its appearance continues to change, leaves will gradually begin to unroll from the canes as the plant grows bigger. The green leaves will contain a zig zag pattern on the stems and shaped similar to a heart but with a pointy end. The plant is capable of growing up to 7 metres in any direction so it can soon grow out of control if left untreated.

I’m a landlord with Japanese Knotweed – what’s next?

Japanese Knotweed can cause incredible damage to properties and significantly affect a property’s value but it is important for landlords to remember this damage is completely unavoidable if the plant is treated in time. It is advisable that homeowners do not attempt to treat the plant themselves as incorrect treatment can cause further damage which will result in a more expensive treatment programme in the long run. The longer Knotweed is left untreated, the more expensive it will be to remove from your property.

If you suspect you have Japanese Knotweed on your property then don’t hesitate to have the suspect plant examined by a professionally trained Knotweed surveyor before it grows out of control. Alternatively, upload photos of the suspicious looking plant to Wise Knotweed Solutions today to get a free assessment from one of our expert surveyors who will tell you whether or not the suspect plant is indeed Knotweed.   

By Jake Ryan of Wise Knotweed Solutions

Monday, 8 April 2019

Why the 2.1% increase in Bo’ness property prices despite BREXIT?

Bo’ness’s continuing housing shortage is putting the town’s (and Scotland’s) repute as a nation of homeowners ‘under threat’, as the number of houses being built continues to be woefully inadequate in meeting the ever demanding needs of the growing population in the town.

In fact, I was talking to some friends the other day at a get together and the subject of the Bo’ness property market came up in the conversation after the weather and politics. It was said that it used to be that if you went out to work and did the right thing, you would expect that relatively quickly you would be buying a house, you would go on holiday every year and you would save for a pension. But now things seem to have changed. 

At least 30,000 new homes are needed each year in Scotland to tackle the chronic housing shortage this Country has. 

As you can see from the graph above (courtesy of the Office of National Statistics), only 18,285 properties were built in 2015 in Scotland as a whole (split down 12,050 built by private builders, 3,060 built by Housing Associations and a paltry 1,160 council houses).  Also, and perhaps more concerning, is the fact that the last time we build more than 30,000 homes a year was in 1977 (the year of the punk explosion and the Queen’s silver (yes, silver!) jubilee depending on your taste) and we have only built 21,000 homes per year on average over the last 10 years.

The current Scottish Government is helping – they are committed to see the building of 6,000 homes per year on average and are on track to deliver this.  However, this still leaves another 24,000 homes per year to build.

The picture in Bo’ness is similar to the Scottish wide trend.

There are simply not enough houses in Bo’ness and the shortage of supply has meant Bo’ness property values have continued to rise, meaning they are 2.1% higher than 12 months ago despite the BREXIT impact on the housing market.

I was taught at school that it is all about supply and demand, this economics game. The demand for Bo’ness property has been particular strong for properties in the good areas of the town and it is my considered opinion that it is likely to continue this year, driven by growing demand among buyers (both Bo’ness home buyers and Bo’ness landlords alike). You see, Bo’ness’s economy is quite varied which will help it weather the current economic uncertainties that we are going through.

…and of supply, well we have spoken about the lack of new building in the town holding things back, but there is another issue relating to supply. Of the existing properties already built, the concern is the number of properties on the market and for sale. The number of properties currently for sale in Bo’ness has reduced over time!

With demand for Bo’ness property rising, minimal new homes being built and less properties coming onto the market, that can only mean one thing, now is a good time to be a homeowner or landlord in Bo’ness. 

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), pop in (6 Vicar Street, Falkirk) or email (

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

Friday, 5 April 2019

Criminal offence ..... call to action for Bo’ness landlords and letting agents

All letting agents are required to be registered with, and regulated by, the Scottish Government.  It has been a criminal (not civil) offence to trade as a letting agent after 1 October 2018 if you are not registered with, and regulated by, the Scottish Government.

Registered letting agents require to adhere to the Scottish Government Letting Agent Code of Practice which means that, amongst other things, they have to have suitable policies and procedures in place, there staff need to be appropriately qualified, and they have to control their clients’ money sensibly and they have to have professional indemnity and client money insurances in place.

Call to action ..... landlords

If they use a letting agent, landlords now have a duty to only use a registered one to ensure that they are legally compliant.  I keep hearing more and more practical reasons why this is the case, for example, did you know that you will be refused a mortgage on a buy-to-let property if you use an agent who is not registered?

Landlords please use a registered letting agent.

Call to action ..... letting agents

There is significant work in getting a letting agent into a good enough shape to be able to be come regulated.  If letting agents who have not registered are looking to sell their business given the hassle involved, get in touch as I know people who are looking to buy such letting agents – they have the resource (both £££ and people) to complete a quick deal.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Purchase price certainty with this modern Bo’ness buy to let opportunity

The buy to let opportunity from The Bo’ness Property Blog today is is on at a ‘fixed price’ so it offers purchase price certainty ….. not something you see that often in the current Bo’ness Property market.  In addition, it is an example of a good buy to let property a landlord who is looking for an ‘easier life’. 

The property is a modern 2-bed first-floor flat in Hillside Grove in The Drum development in Bo’ness.  The flat, which is in good decorative condition, has a large open plan lounge/dining room, a separate modern fitted kitchen, two double bedrooms (one with built-in wardrobes) and a modern bathroom with a shower over the bath.

Running the numbers on this one.  The flat, which has been on the market since June (I suspect that this is the reason for it being on at a fixed price), is being sold by Your Move Linlithgow for a fixed price of £95,000.  I would expect that you could get a rent level of £550/month which would give you a yield of 6.9%.

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

Friday, 29 March 2019

Welcome to the latest instalment of our regular blog - Confessions of a Bo'ness 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.

If I had a penny for the number of times that I had rolled my eyes in despair at something a contractor had done, then I’d be a rich man by now (of course that is with the exception of our regular fantastic trades guys and you know who you are!).

We sent Ron the painter to do some work in a property we manage in the borders.  The tenant was able to go and stay with friends for the weekend and so it suited her to have the work done then.  Ron was happy to oblige, even although it was a weekend, and we explicitly explained that he would need to travel each day to the property or find accommodation as he wouldn’t be able to stay in the property.

On Monday morning there was a phone call from the irate tenant, who said that Ron had spent the weekend in her home, and she felt that her personal space had been violated.  On further questioning, we established that a friend of hers had walked past the property over the weekend and had looked in the window.  She quite clearly saw 2 deckchairs, a table and some bedding.  The tenant also claimed that dishes had been used and washed up but not put away.  

Well we spoke to Ron who said that he had taken his wife away for the weekend and that they had both slept in his van.  Now if you could see Ron’s van, you would know that is not possible as it is chocka full of painting stuff.  No self-respecting partner would agree to sleep in there!

Unfortunately the job was not finished and the tenant refused to have Ron back in her home, and so we had to find a different painter to complete the job .... and we never used Ron again!

Over many years of property letting, we have built up a list of reliable, quality contractors but getting to this point has been difficult and we have parted company with many trades’ guys along the way.  There is also the issue of quality versus cost.  Landlords often want the cheapest job possible rather than paying a wee bit more for quality.  Maybe if Ron had quoted higher, then he could have treated his partner to a nice B&B!

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