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Scotland reopens – what do property investors need to know?

Restrictions on house moves in Scotland were relaxed from Monday (June 29 2020) as part of the Scottish Government’s four-phase routemap through and out of lockdown.

According to guidance from the Scottish Government, the following activities are now allowed: 

  • Visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes

  • Viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent

  • Preparing a residential property to move in

  • Moving home

  • Visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property. 

The Scottish Government advises that anyone considering buying or selling a property should speak to a solicitor, and has also indicated that the process of buying, selling and moving home will be different to before Covid-19.

More of the process, for instance, should be done remotely where possible, with a much greater use of virtual viewings and valuations. Like England, open house viewings should not take place. The Scottish Government guidance on house moves can be read here.

The relaxation of restrictions on house moves mean that physical property viewings may now go ahead in Scotland, applying to both homes for sale and homes to let.  

Nevertheless, viewings will look very different. Here are some key changes to be aware of with regards to viewings:  

  • The Scottish Government advises that initial viewings should be done virtually first where possible and a physical viewing should only be offered if there is serious interest in buying or letting the property.  

  • Open viewings should not take place; all viewings should be on an appointment-only basis.  

  • All parties involved in a viewing should adhere to government guidance on hand washing, social distancing, respiratory hygiene and face coverings.  

  • Viewers should restrict the number of people who accompany them on a viewing so that physical distancing can be practised.  Only those in their immediate household and/or their agent should accompany them.   

  • If any member of either the household being viewed or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of Covid-19 or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed.   

The advice to the public from the Scottish Government on viewings can be seen here.  

Paul Hilton, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Scottish property marketing company ESPC, said: “We have seen evidence of rising demand in recent weeks and have no doubt that the relaxation of restrictions will be welcomed by property buyers and sellers across Scotland.” 

He added: “Public health and safety is of the utmost importance and so the moving house process will be different to before Covid-19. We advise anyone interested in buying or selling a property to get in touch with a solicitor.”

Nicky Lloyd, head of ESPC Lettings, said: "While restrictions on the property market have been relaxed and tenants can now view rental properties in person, the viewing process will be different to before Covid-19 with additional health and safety precautions in place." 

"We are encouraging tenants to view properties virtually first and only proceeding to a physical viewing if they are seriously interested in letting the property. This allows us to mitigate face-to-face contact, while helping tenants find a new rental home and landlords rent out any unoccupied properties." 

Maurice Allan, residential property managing director of Scottish agency Lindsays, said: “There has been healthy interest from buyers and sellers in anticipation of the property market re-opening since Nicola Sturgeon confirmed activity could resume on June 29 within social distancing guidelines." 

He added: "Our estate agency team will be conducting viewings following government rules on social distancing and hygiene requirements. They will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and guides have been drawn up for viewers and sellers to safely carry out viewings." 

Paul Hilton continued: “Property buyers and tenants looking to move home will be pleased that physical viewings are now permitted. In the last couple of weeks, ESPC has noticed increases in viewing requests for properties for sale, which are significantly up compared to last year."  

ESPC, which every quarter releases its House Price Report with key property market statistics for Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders from the previous three months, also acts as a property search portal as well as offering advice, news and area guides.

Some of its most recent property highlights, which may interest investors looking to purchase north of the border, include:  

  • stylish four-bedroom bungalow with a home gym, which has been one of the site’s most viewed properties recently.

  • spacious two-bedroom flat in Musselburgh which is described as being ‘in great move-in condition’ and ‘ideal for a first-time buyer’.

  • three-bedroom house, located at the edge of Coldstream in the Borders, and home to a beautiful landscaped garden. 

  • modern house in Haddington featuring bright rooms and quirky décor. 

  • four-bedroom flat with fine period features, lovely views of Arthur’s Seat and a south-facing garden, located in Edinburgh’s Blacket Conservation Area. 

You can browse the full range of properties currently for sale on ESPC and read all of its articles relating to the impact of coronavirus on the Scottish property market here

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