Summer in East Lothian –
Who wouldn’t want to live here?

Is it a good time to sell my property?

Pauline Smith, our very own Senior Property Manager, has lived in East Lothian all her years, having been brought up in the idyllic location of Belhaven, where the lovely Belhaven Bay was classed as her back garden.  In her adult life she has experienced life in Gifford, West Barns and now in the centre of Dunbar, where her children go to the same schools as she and her husband attended in their youth.  It’s safe to say, Pauline’s knowledge of East Lothian is comprehensive, giving her a good standing to provide advice to those home owners out there who are thinking about selling their East Lothian home.

With all that is on offer in East Lothian, beautiful coastlines, luxurious countryside and the accessibility of the City, home owners are queuing up to live in the County.  The property market is rapidly recovering from events of the past and in the first half of 2018 properties have been selling well and achieving sale prices over their Home Report values.  We have found that due to lack of sales stock properties are being snapped up very quickly and there just aren’t enough properties on the market to accommodate all the buyers out there.  This could largely be due to the recent changes to Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), which has led to a slow down in mid value homes becoming available.  Generally, families who previously would have sold their 3 or 4 bedroom home to move into a larger property as their family expands are now choosing to stay put and spend the money they would have outlaid on a larger property towards extending or upgrading their existing home.  This saves them the large outlay of LBTT, but also reduces the amount of property going on the market, which has a knock-on effect all the way down to the first-time buyer properties.  The Government continue in their aims to assist first time buyers, with access to the LIFT Scheme (Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers), for both houses available on the open market and new builds.  Unfortunately, these buyers are greatly restricted to the price they can offer for a property on the open market and in most cases miss out on properties as they are unable to compete with higher bidders.  The limitations are mainly against the valuation of the property, whereby the buyer cannot offer any more than the value as stated on the Home Report.  We have found that in certain cases, buyers are offering cash incentives to sellers privately in a bid to have them accept their offer of the valuation.  This is highly dubious, not to mention the fraud implications and we would not recommend any seller to enter into any such agreements.

Whilst owning a property in East Lothian can be a great feature and attraction to a buyer on its own merit, it is always worth considering the presentation of your property when putting it on the market for sale.  From years of experience we have continually found that if a property is presented well it will not only obtain a high level of interest, but will also obtain a healthy selling price.  Buyers expectations have changed over the past 10 years, where more and more buyers are looking for properties that are in a ready to move-in condition.  This could be due to the fact that money is limited and savings are being eaten up by the additional money they are having to find above the valuation, which funding is largely not available on, leaving very little to go towards upgrades, or could simply be down to the fact that more and more property owners are full time employed and do not have the time or energy to put towards upgrading and refurbishing their own new property.  It wouldn’t be recommended that a seller go to the lengths of fitting a new kitchen or bathroom suite before placing their home on the market, but certainly smaller, effective, touches are worth the effort.  Freshening up of décor, cleaning of carpets, decluttering-minimising rooms and tidying up of outdoors space are all things that will improve the look of a property, both in the photography and for viewings. Additionally, taking a step back and looking at your property through they eyes of a buyer.  It is always worth considering any remedial work required to external areas, such as guttering, roof masonry/slates as well as any deterioration or wear within the property.  These areas will all be considered by the Surveyor when preparing the Home Report and are likely to be a factor for the Buyer when offering for the property.  When your property is ready to put on the market you are likely to find that your Agent will recommend an asking price of well below the valuation figure.  This is a fairly new method of marketing, but appears to be having the desired effect, where it generates a wealth of interest, leading to a Closing Date for Offers, which are often for much more than the valuation.

Buyers are attracted to East Lothian from all over the Country when looking for a healthy lifestyle, whilst possibly commuting into the city on a daily basis for work commitments.  Transportation links to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Berwick upon Tweed make East Lothian extremely accessible. Whether they opt to buy a home in the Sunshine capital of Dunbar, or the rural village location of Gifford buyers are attracted to the wealth of leisure pursuits on their doorstep.  Many properties on the market offer lovely private garden space for home owners to relax and unwind after a hectic week.  For the more energetic of us, there are facilities like Foxlake, East Links Family Park, Coast 2 Coast Surf School, Championship Golf Courses, not to mention the miles of sandy beaches and woodland walks located throughout our lovely County.  The list goes on and on, making East Lothian sellable without any effort at all!

Going back to the opening question……… Yes, there’s never been a better time to get your property on the market.  Buyers are keen to secure their home in East Lothian and the limited availability of open market properties this year certainly benefits the Seller more than the Buyer.  Why not take advice from an expert like Pauline, by arranging a meeting with Watt Property who can help you with both preparing your property for the sales market and finding you a buyer.  Our Fixed Fee for Estate Agency includes all the materials required for marketing your property, with no hidden costs, giving the Seller peace of mind that they know exactly what their outlays will be from the start.