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Overview of the current residential property market and competition for properties

Published: 04 April 2023
Time to read: 4 mins

Typical townhouses and front doors in the New Town district of Edinburgh, Scotland

With the mini budget announcement last September causing uncertainty within the UK, it would be safe to assume that the property market would have suffered as a result. Whilst its effect was felt over the three months following this announcement, and despite a sluggish start to 2023, positivity and cautious optimism have returned, with competition for properties at all levels remaining high. Notwithstanding the current cost of living crisis, interest rates appear less volatile than in the early part of this year, and the market has rallied as purchasers recommence their search for their new home. The market also continues to see activity due to upsizing and downsizing.

The possible exception to the uptick is the buy to let sector, as a result of the numerous and well-documented obstacles and restrictions facing landlords which have made it more difficult to achieve the returns seen in previous years. The six-month rent freeze may have ended, but rent controls remain in place and look set to stay. Tenancy reform has given a degree of power back to the tenant and there are further calls for greater tenant rights. This, and the regulation of short-term letting by local authorities has made housing less attractive for landlords and resulted in less activity within the property investment market. Notwithstanding, the private rental market remains vital to provide homes for individuals who cannot afford or are not yet in a position to buy.

For those who are already on the ladder or taking their first step, securing a property can seem daunting. Demand continues to exceed supply which creates a highly competitive and interest driven market. It continues to be a seller’s market, with competition not only among local purchasers but from those out with Scotland and overseas with individuals and families seeking a better investment than is perhaps available within their own country, a better quality of family and working life, or simply wishing to retire to Scotland. We have seen an increase in the number of purchasers moving north from elsewhere in the UK as well as from across Europe, the US, and Australia.

We have also seen a more cautious purchaser emerge over the last few months and in these circumstances, bargaining power is not quite so strongly in favour of the seller. There is a gradual rise of properties moving to a fixed price, often to provide more certainty for both parties and in an attempt to speed up the process.  Many purchasers are unfamiliar with the buying process in Scotland, whether that be because they are based elsewhere, are first time buyers or have not moved house for a long period of time. It is advised that contact is made with a knowledgeable and informed adviser as early as possible in the process so that the necessary compliance and identity checks can be completed ahead of offering. Whilst it would appear to some that it is all a bit of a lottery and that a blank cheque and crystal ball would be useful, getting the right advice from an experienced property legal team at the outset can take much of the uncertainty out of the buying process. Our approach is to spend time understanding your circumstances, priorities, and reasons for buying and then tailor our advice to your needs. With over 100 years of combined market knowledge, we are in an excellent position to guide you effectively.  Purchasing a property is one of the most important (and expensive) decisions you will ever make and therefore it makes sense to have the best possible advice in place to help you secure your new home.

If you are planning on purchasing a property please get in touch with our property experts to discuss further.

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