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Property ISSUE 2 SUMMER 2019


In search of the good life n n n n

Smallholdings in big demand The beauty of bungalows Buying a holiday home Bats in buildings


Good prospects in a busy market Welcome to the second edition of Property Matters, our magazine focusing on residential sales, purchases and lettings.


4 The changing face of the Scottish estate.

6 On the level: the attraction of bungalows. Top tips for landlords.

This is traditionally the busiest time of year in the house-hunting calendar and I am delighted to report that buyer confidence is high, the volume of sales is increasing and the supply of properties coming to the market reflects ongoing positive market sentiment.


Galbraith continues to grow. We are pleased to have expanded our presence in the North of England this year, opening three new offices in Cumbria and Northumberland, in addition to our eleven offices in Scotland. Our Elgin office is also celebrating a decade of serving customers in Moray.

In the footsteps of film stars.

In this issue we examine a wide range of topics currently having an impact on the sector including: how best to sell an equestrian property; the enduring appeal of smallholdings; the case for and against selling a property in lots; and what to do if your renovation reveals a protected species living contentedly in your roof! We wish you all a very enjoyable summer. Whether you are a buyer, seller, tenant or landlord, we would be delighted to offer you our advice.

simon Brown Partner and head of residential sales and lettings

Buying a holiday home. Pet-friendly holidays.

10 12 Bats in buildings. Housing in the countryside.

14 Galbraith and Land Factor merge. Securing a tenancy. Galbraith Tracker.

16 Selling equestrian property. Selling multiple properties. The case for traditional estate agents.

18 Cover picture: Duallin Farm, Ben Lawers, Aberfeldy, Perthshire – under offer.

20 Rentals in demand.

22 Selling a ‘fixer-upper’. All about septic tanks.

We provide a full range of property consulting services across the commercial, residential, forestry, rural and energy sectors. Galbraith provides a personal service, listening to clients and delivering advice to suit their particular opportunities and circumstances.

Follow us on Twitter: @Galbraith_Group Like us on Facebook: Galbraithpropertyconsultancy See us on Instagram: Join us on LinkedIn:

The popularity of smallholdings shows no signs of abating, says Rod Christie.

Riding the NC500.

Business or pleasure? Getting the right loan. GALBRAITH is a leading independent property consultancy. Drawing on a century of experience in land and property management, the firm is progressive and dynamic, employing 240 people in offices across Scotland and Northern England.

The good life: why

Property Matters is produced by Galbraith, and designed by George Gray Media & Design, St Andeux, France. © CKD Galbraith LLP.

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IN spIte of the general uncertainty the market has experienced over the past few years, smallholdings have shown consistent strong demand and growth.   So what is a smallholding? Defining one is a bit like describing an elephant: you’ll know one when you see one. In essence, they are properties which extend to more than a house and large garden but which are not large enough to be considered as a working commercial farm either. Typically, a smallholding might comprise a house, a range of buildings and anything from five to 50 acres. Depending on location, size, quality and condition of the house, prices range from around £200,000 up to £500,000 or so. In general, the property market has hardened in recent years with well-located houses in good condition attracting the greatest interest while the market has been much more difficult for those in secondary locations or which require a degree of modernisation. The market for smallholdings has, however, bucked the trend. The most obvious reason for this is that prospective buyers are far more likely to compromise in terms of location or the condition of the house in order to have the relative rare opportunity of acquiring a property with land.

smallholdings are in demand Smallholdings offer buyers a relatively affordable opportunity to change their lives, whether they want to escape the ‘rat race’ and live a more bucolic lifestyle growing and rearing their own food, seek seclusion and tranquillity away from near neighbours or simply to acquire sought-after grazing land to accommodate horses and avoid expensive livery rents. Smallholdings are popular right across the country. Here in Moray, we have sold more than a dozen smallholdings of varying sizes in the past year or so. Buyers have come from right across the country. Our own office statistics show that 40% of buyers came from within the county, 20% came from the rest of Scotland and a further 40% moved into the area from England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

advertised at £250,000 and included a two-bed cottage, various outbuildings and 10 acres with grazing paddocks and mature woodland. Having generated considerable interest and with 28 viewings, it sold at a competitive closing date. 01343 546362

Above: Easter Bodylair attracted interest from across the UK eventually selling to an English buyer. Below: Lot 1, 9A Milrig Holding, Kirknewton, West Lothian – offers over £380,000.

At one end of the scale, with a guide price of £180,000, North Riggins, near Cairnie, is a charming two-bed farmhouse and steading sitting in 10 acres. The property needed significant renovation, but attracted more than 20 viewers before selling for well in excess of the guide price. On the other hand, Easter Bodylair, by Huntly, included a five-bed farmhouse, an extensive range of buildings, a riding arena and 38 acres. Marketed at a guide price of £440,000, the property sold well to a buyer moving from Cambridgeshire. Utterly charming is Greenwells Croft, by Buckie. Tucked away in a secluded position, the croft was | property matters | summer 2019 | page 3

The 21st century Scottish estate Times change, and even something as traditional as the Scottish estate moves with them. Emma Chalmers reports on what today’s buyers are seeking.

the traditional scottish estate of 100 years ago was based on enjoying the country pursuits of fishing, shooting and stalking in the dramatic scottish countryside. Family and guests stayed in the “big house” at the heart of the estate, which was geared pretty much exclusively towards these sporting pursuits, with farming enterprises running alongside. The traditional country pursuits are still important on today’s estates, but modern owners are usually not focused purely on these sporting activities. Their motivation is just as likely to be conservation, recreation or the simple desire to get away from it all; owning a piece of Scotland can be an opportunity to indulge a passion or a pastime and also generate an income.

Main picture: Coul, Auchterarder, Perthshire – sold. Above left: Glamis Estate in the early 20th century.

The estates of the 19th and 20th centuries were not always seen as sources of income, but today’s owners are far more commercially minded and expect their estates to be as selfsufficient as possible. This may involve developing renewable energy projects, exploring afforestation opportunities, renting out cottages as holiday homes,

Above right: A coastal Scottish estate.

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turning the principal house into a wedding or event venue or adapting traditional outbuildings as breweries, artisan distilleries or kitchens for niche food production. Many estates have farms run either inhand by the owner or tenanted on short, medium or longer term agreements, some of which run for generations. The wide range of commercial opportunities, hand-in-hand with traditional country pursuits, allow the 21st century estate owner to get away from it all in beautiful countryside and enjoy generally healthy capital growth, so it’s no surprise that there continues to be strong demand from prospective purchasers from all over the world.

The number of estates coming to the open market has declined over the past four years. Most sales are handled by the agent on a strictly private basis, sellers being drawn to this method as they seek a quiet departure from their estate. Strong demand continues with potential buyers seeking estates across Scotland from the remote Highlands to the rolling Perthshire countryside and down to the Borders. The west coast continues to be of great interest with its beaches and dramatic scenery. A residential estate with principal house, a number of cottages and perhaps 100 or so acres is highly sought after, particularly when it is accessible from airports and the cities. In the past five years, Galbraith has

handled the sale of more Scottish estates than any other firm. We are involved in estate transactions from all sides: buying, selling or providing valuation advice. When an estate is brought to the market it may be the first time for generations and it is essential the sale is handled by professional agents experienced in the market. A landed sale involves many intricacies and an understanding of these complexities is essential. Valuing an estate requires a detailed knowledge of the worth of the elements that make it up, such as deer, salmon, grouse, forestry or planting land, farmland, buildings, cottages, and of course the principal house or shooting lodge. Values vary depending on quality, location and other issues but capital values at present, based on a five-year

average, are approximately in the following range: • Red stags £30,000 to £45,000, • Driven grouse £3,500 - £4,500 per brace, • Walked up grouse £2,000 - £2,500 per brace, • Planting land £1,500 - £2,000 per acre. Galbraith has a long pedigree in the estate market. Whether selling, buying or valuing, we have highly experienced professionals covering Scotland and the north of England. For estate sales, purchases or valuations contact: John Bound 01463 245352 Simon Brown 01786 434602 Emma Chalmers 01738 456062 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 5

Top tips for landlords looking for tenants Demand for rental homes is high, but landlords still need to do some work to get the best tenants, says Susan Guthrie. DemaND for good quality rental homes continues to rise across all regions with the private rental sector still offering a sound investment opportunity.  Current and prospective landlords should consider the following top tips to ensure a successful tenancy: Vet prospective tenants thoroughly. It's important to check bank, employer and previous landlord references. As a rule of thumb, a tenant's annual income should be at least 30 times the monthly property rent. always take a deposit. And more importantly, always protect it through one of the Scottish deposit protection schemes. As the landlord you can be made to pay the tenant three times the

Don't just leave tenants to their own devices after they move in.

deposit amount back if the deposit isn’t formally protected. Most tenants expect to have to pay a deposit of at least one month's rent so be wary of those who try to wriggle out of this. schedule regular property checks. Don't just leave tenants to their own devices after they move in. Ensure that the first inspection is within three months of the movein date. Inspections should be carried out at least annually by a dedicated lettings agent or the landlord and documented accordingly. They can provide useful evidence in disputes over fair wear and tear. If there is a breach of the lease, act on this immediately, don't leave it to perpetuate or get worse. alert tenants to rent arrears straight away. Acting promptly will prevent the situation becoming difficult. Keep a copy of all paperwork and emails sent to tenants as this will make it easier to serve

a Notice to Quit / Notice to Leave to tenants if the contract is consistently breached. With the new Scottish Private Residential Tenancy legislation, (SPRT) the grounds for repossession are more restricted; all the more reason to ensure you find suitable tenants from the outset.

Hill House, Turriff, Aberdeenshire – offers over £375,000.

provide a tenant Information pack. This provides important information to tenants in the private rented sector including details of the condition of the property, tenancy agreements, and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Landlords have a legal duty to do this. tenancy Deposit scheme: All landlords are required by law to safeguard a tenant's deposit until it is due to be repaid. This scheme ensures that both landlord's and tenant's money is protected.

Clunehill, Riverview Park, Kippford, Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway – guide price £450,000.

comprehensive inventory: Landlords must allow for a level of ‘fair wear and tear' to their property during the rental period. A comprehensive inventory is conducted at the beginning of the lease so that both parties are aware of the condition of a property and that any damage can be accurately assessed. Keeping abreast of all of the above helps landlords foster good tenant relations, which should encourage longer lease agreements and help to prevent tenants from falling into rent arrears.

Boleskine House Gate Lodge, Foyers, Inverness – offers over £110,000.

Galbraith manages the lets of more than 1,000 homes throughout Scotland and Northern England and has a wealth of experience in assisting both landlords and prospective tenants with a range of budgets. As the lettings sector becomes more heavily regulated we expect to see a rise in the number of landlords seeking professional advice and assistance. 01896 662824

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Windsmere, Parkdaill, Hawick – guide price £350,000.

Aultbea, Kirkbuddo, Forfar, Angus – offers over £285,000.

The beauty of bungalows Single-storey homes offer many advantages, but very few are being built. Scott Holley reports on a worrying trend. BuNGaloWs have suffered from an image problem over the years.  Many people associate the term with a certain style of 1960s bungalow with limited aesthetic appeal. In fact bungalows come in many styles, from traditional stone dwellings with attractive original slate roofs to former farmworker’s cottages in scenic settings and traditional coastal properties. Bungalows have always been a popular choice for those thinking about the future and whether it will be easy, or even possible, to live in a property with lots of stairs. On retirement some decide to downsize and this may result in choosing between an apartment and a bungalow. A bungalow could be seen as a better

alternative to apartment living which may represent too much of a change after many years in a large family home. Apartments may also mean the close proximity of neighbours, lack of outside space and on-going costs such as service charges. Planning policy, economic and political forces have meant that the land-hungry low-density nature of the bungalow has fallen out of favour with new-build developers. The trend has been to create higher density developments with units on multiple levels rather than spreading fewer units over larger areas of land. Bungalows are well-suited to the older generation, but they also offer a number of advantages for younger people. Those with young families recognise the appeal because of the family-friendly lateral living space they provide. The generally larger plots provide privacy and more generous gardens – a great benefit for families with children. Figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) show that new-build bungalows fell to 1% of the overall

dwelling type being built in 2014 – down from 7% in 1996. In the same period, the density of flats/maisonettes almost doubled. This should be setting alarm bells ringing among policymakers. The advantages of the bungalow are numerous, including great potential from those needing modernisation. They frequently also offer the space to extend into the garden or the loft thus potentially providing a healthy return on investment. This has resulted in premium prices being achieved for some bungalows. Bungalows always have and always will appeal to all categories of buyers. The long-term shortage of supply means they will remain a sound purchase for those lucky enough to find one on the market. 01738 456 061 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 7

The great escape: buying a holiday home Buying a second home for holidays or to rent commercially is an exciting prospect, but a number of factors must be considered, says Scott Holley.

the appeal of the staycation and being able to have a getaway at short notice for weekends, christmas and summer holidays has given the holiday home market renewed vigour.  A hoilday home can also be an opportunity to diversify an income source, but there are some important factors to consider before making the decision to buy. The first is to identify why you want to buy a holiday home: for income, capital gains or lifestyle. This won’t be a passive investment; it will need active management which has associated expenditure. There will be maintenance costs and these should be a priority if you are letting your property. To stay competitive and appealing, you will also need to ensure the internet connection, heating, fixtures, fittings and facilities are of a high enough standard. Location is critical to attract the highest rent, repeat business and most bookings. Remote areas can be beautiful and serene, but those that are more accessible could have broader tourist attractions nearby, will provide more amenities and will involve less travel time. A tourist hotspot will provide a ready-made market, but there will be fierce competition and the market may already be saturated with holiday homes. Considering how often you will use a second home is important. If you decide to rent it out but also want to use it yourself, the periods in which you can do this may be restricted and may result in lost income. However, as Cottages & Castles

reports “with the change in booking trends, offpeak holidays are becoming more and more popular with couples and groups of friends looking to avoid school holiday periods for a quieter break”. This gives you a little more flexibility and opportunity to get those bookings. Initial transaction costs will be high, particularly with the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland) or Stamp Duty (England) on the purchase price. Prospective buyers should seek independent legal and accountancy advice on the income tax and capital gains tax implications of owning a second home. To qualify for holiday-let tax benefits, the property must be available for letting for at least 210 days a year and be let for at least 105 days – a condition that must be taken into account when looking at the feasibility of the purchase. The local authority may place restrictions on the length of time holiday homes can be occupied. Insurance is a further area to consider, including appropriate cover for buildings and contents, personal possessions, loss of income and public liability insurance. “Holiday home owners also have a duty to carry out a fire risk assessment of the property, as well as the upkeep of various other legal requirements, including PAT testing and maintaining your private water supply if applicable,” says Cottages & Castles. The most important point is your reason for buying. Your heart will rule if it’s only for personal use and your head should rule if it’s purely for income generation. Either way, getting it right will yield many enjoyable times ahead. 01738 456 061

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A tourist hotspot will provide a ready-made market, but there will be fierce competition.

Casper, star of the popular Scottish travel blog ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug’ enjoying a holiday at a Cottages & Castles property. Picture: Sam Grant

Pets love holidays too! By Carol Gall

are reduced - although there are reasonable limits.

pets come in all shapes and sizes, provide love, loyalty and hours of entertainment.

Carol Gall, bookings manager at Cottages & Castles, says: “Over the many years I have worked here we have welcomed hundreds of dogs to many of our holiday homes, but we have also had the occasional 'special guest' too. One family took their parrot and many moons ago someone took their horse. Provided the owners know, and we can both accommodate it, we are happy to consider everyone, as we know family extends further than kin."

They teach us responsibility as children; provide unquestioning company as teenagers (when human company simply will not do!) and, depending on the pet, encourage us to take fresh air and exercise – even in the dreariest of weather a dog needs a walk! Owning a pet has been proved to reduce stress levels so much that “take a dog to work day” has become a must for today’s millennial-minded office. There are so many perks to owning a pet, but as with many a silver lining there’s a cloud which becomes all too obvious when a pet owner decides it’s holiday time. Surfing the internet for the ideal holiday, one’s furry, feathered or scaled friend starts eagerly watching and looking at you with those “please can I come too” eyes – change search to “pet friendly holidays” so that the whole family can enjoy time away together. There are indeed pet friendly hotels, but there will be restrictions as to where your pet can roam both inside and out, and of course there could be many other pets staying at the hotel and not all will get along with each other! These will also often be restricted to just the dog. With a self-catering cottage restrictions

Safe and secure outside spaces for both pets and children are important and with a self-catering cottage these areas are more likely to be private allowing the whole family more freedom. At Cottages & Castles we pride ourselves on putting our clients’ needs first. We’ll help you find the best fit for your whole family – even if that includes four legs, wings or fins. Almost 75% of our properties accept dogs and last year more than 30% of our bookings included pets, giving more than 1,700 dogs a holiday in 2018! Samantha Grant, author of the popular ‘Scotland with the Wee White Dug’ travel blog has taken her pooch to three very different properties organised through Cottages & Castles and has loved every one of them. “Cottages & Castles have an excellent

selection of pet friendly properties located throughout Scotland – ranging from cute cottages to magnificent castles,” she says. “I enjoyed a beach break at the incredible Ice House, St Cyrus, an idyllic island escape with a view to die for at Taigh Ailein on the Isle of Harris and a relaxing stay at Keeper’s Cottage on the beautiful Straloch Estate in Perthshire. “All three properties were perfect for a holiday with pooch. Each time I received five-star customer service from Cottages & Castles. I’d definitely recommend a Cottages & Castles break to anyone looking for a pet friendly self-catering holiday in Scotland.” When it comes to our owners they can be just as creative as you – if they have the facilities. Michael Summers of Applecross Estate says: “Applecross welcomes pets and their responsible owners and we would be pleased if our horsey guests brought their four-legged friends along too. We have lots of green space and horses could be accommodated in our fields adjacent to the holiday houses.” When it comes to pets on holiday, you can but ask – if it’s possible Cottages & Castles will find it.

Carol Gall 01738 451 610 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 9

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The star attraction Alistair Christie explains how land and property owners can benefit from Scotland’s popularity with film-makers. From battles in the great glens to city car chases, scotland has become increasingly popular in the past few years as a location for films, advertisements and tV shows. With winding country roads, snow-capped mountains and cityscapes all within a short drive of Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, the Pentland Studios planned for Midlothian and the Guardhouse plan near Riccarton in Edinburgh, Scotland is the perfect filming location for a huge array of genres without days of travelling as is often the case in other countries. As warriors re-enact the battle of Braveheart, Outlaw King and Outlander; Bond fans search out 007’s childhood home Skyfall House and wizards

set off for Hogwarts via the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the opportunities to benefit from movie-related tourism are reported to be worth £100m a year to the Scottish economy. Have you ever considered your property as the next backdrop of an iconic film or TV show? This potential income stream has been identified on a number of estates managed by Galbraith both north and south of the border. Our estate managers and advisors have been involved in drawing up leases to facilitate the use of land owned by a client in the Central Belt for a major worldwide TV series, as well as a major Netflix original film, showing that the opportunities are not confined to dramatic Highland landscapes. It is important to seek expert advice when drawing up these agreements to ensure the client’s interests are protected, that the ground or buildings used suffer no damage and that the property is fully reinstated to its original condition after filming. An agent should also ensure that the landowner is properly remunerated for the use of the property. If you are successful in securing an offer to film on your property, Galbraith can provide advice and the correct documentation to protect your property and ensure that secure and appropriate commercial terms are agreed. 01786 435047

OWN A SLICE OF THE BIG SCREEN Whisky Galore! is based on a true story of Scottish islanders on Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides who tried to plunder 264,000 bottles of whisky from a stranded ship during wartime rationing in 1941. Both the 1949 original and the 2016 remake were box office successes and Galbraith has an exciting opportunity to own part of the action: scenes from the newly released re-make of Whisky Galore! were filmed on New Aberdour beach, which is available to buy through our Aberdeen office: 01224 860710. | property matters | summer 2019 | page 11

Cracking the countryside planning code An understanding of how Local Planning Authorities work is essential for any would-be developer, says Joanne Plant.

local planning authorities (lpas) in rural areas of scotland generally seek to strike a balance between protecting the landscape and wider environment from isolated residential proposals, while recognising the benefits of appropriately considered housing in terms of supporting existing communities and services.  LPAs are generally more supportive of housing in remote or economically fragile rural areas (as opposed to locations within a reasonable drive time of cities and towns) as a means of stemming outmigration, providing affordable accommodation for local people and supporting existing services and facilities. Each LPA has its own specific planning policies and guidance regarding housing in the countryside, but there are a number of categories of rural housing development that are typically supported ‘in principle’ – subject to sensitive siting and design, maintaining residential amenity, and satisfying technical considerations such as access and servicing. These categories are: Infill development between existing houses and buildings. Factors to be considered include respecting the established pattern of development and ensuring that infilling does not result in or add to ribbon development along a road frontage.


Adding to or rounding off an established cluster or group of residential properties. Each LPA has different criteria for this category. For example: some LPA’s define a cluster/ group as comprising two, three or five dwellings; some include nonresidential buildings that are capable of conversion to housing as forming part of a cluster/group while others do not; and some limit the growth of any identified cluster/group within a stated period of time to a fixed percentage increase.


It should be noted that the presence of a cluster/group alone is not necessarily sufficient to meet policy objectives. Subject to satisfying associated supplementary planning guidance on such matters, as a minimum, proposed sites should be well-related to the existing cluster/ group, form a logical extension to it and contribute to its sense of place, and be well-defined in terms of natural boundary features such as treebelts, hedges and watercourses.

Exceptional circumstances relating to the need for agricultural or forestry workers to live in a particular countryside location for the purposes of their business. In such cases, LPAs will require an economic viability report to be provided as part of a planning application.


Replacement dwellings in cases where the existing property is no longer fit for purpose and its renovation is not economically viable. In the latter case, LPAs will typically require a full structural survey of the existing building to demonstrate that its rehabilitation is not practically or financially viable.


Conversion of redundant, traditional buildings in the countryside to form residential accommodation.


Again, LPAs have different criteria for this category. In terms of the physical appearance of the building proposed for conversion, a number of LPAs make reference to the term ‘substantially intact’ however, this is rarely defined and is open to debate.

Bats in buildings: How careful

There can also be disagreement between applicants and LPAs as to what constitutes a traditional building. Other factors to be aware of include: demonstrating the structural stability of the building and its suitability for conversion; potential presence of bats and owls, which are protected species; and possible limitations on internal layout and new-build extensions especially if the building retains a number of its original features.

Bats are protected species and developers and renovators need to take care to stay within the law, says James Taylor.

As already noted, each LPA has different policies, guidance and advice on housing in the countryside and each site should be assessed on its merits.

Scotland is home to nine species of bat and England has 18. All have legal protection and so do their roosts, so special consideration must be given to them when undertaking building projects where bats have taken up home.

Given the range and complexity of housing in the countryside policies across Scotland, it is imperative that prospective developers seek professional planning advice from the outset. The planning team at Galbraith is experienced in assessing the development potential of rural housing sites and correctly interpreting associated planning policies and supplementary guidance. 0131 240 3030

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most people are resigned to the fact that building works can be delayed by setbacks in the construction process or bad weather – but very few expect their renovation to be delayed by bats.

Bats are woodland animals, but many species have taken to roosting in buildings as the availability of natural roosting sites in trees has fallen. Bats use buildings like houses, churches, bridges and schools. They tend to return to the same sites year after year and are more of a problem for building projects in summer when they need somewhere safe to rear their young. Galbraith has advised a number of clients on how to deal with bats and other protected species during building projects, particularly in more rural areas where bats thrive. Special measures must be implemented to adhere to ecological legislation and project design must be

WORKING WITH BATS: FOUR CASE STUDIES the Galbraith building surveying team has recently advised on a number of projects where bats have been present:

cawder Golf club, Bishopbriggs  A category A listed building needed extensive external fabric repairs. Bats were found to be roosting in the roof. Before work could begin, a full mitigation plan was required, including an ecological survey conducted by Bowland Ecology and SLR Consulting. Disturbance was kept to a minimum and there was no loss of roosting opportunities in the area and there was no detriment to the favourable local conservation status of bats. Bat boxes were placed in mature trees before work began to compensate for the loss of roosting sites in the building.

category B listed chapel, midlothian

planning avoids delays carefully considered where bats have been found to be occupying a building. Failure to comply with legislation can lead to criminal prosecutions. In many cases a series of ecology surveys will need to be carried out by specialist ecologists between May and August when bats are active. Before works can commence, a licence may need to be sought from the relevant authority – Natural England or Scottish Natural Heritage. When planning any project that creates a risk of disturbance to bats, or indeed any other protected species during their breeding cycle, it is vital to start preparations early and plan ahead. A range of measures can be undertaken, such as timing the work to avoid the breeding season, installing bat boxes to re-house any bats found during the work and specifying the installation of lead slates in new roofs to maintain access for bats in the future. The use of under-slate breathable membranes can be problematic where bats are present as bats claws can become entangled in the membrane. The design of the roof must therefore be carefully considered and the introduction of alternative roof felts and roof ventilation factored in. Sabina Ostalowska, an ecologist with Bowland Ecology, said: “We have worked

with Galbraith on building projects where protected species, most commonly bats, have been found to be roosting. The understanding of wildlife legislation and responsibilities with regard to protected species is an essential component of managing projects. “The awareness of bat conservation issues by property firms along with a 'can-do’ attitude not only ensures that the project is completed on time and on budget but also helps to conserve important protected species. “Bats are quite commonly found in houses, both new and old and it is very rare for bats to cause any damage to properties. In most cases, people don't even know that they share the house with bats. “However, maintenance and alteration work to buildings can adversely affect bats and their roosts. It is illegal to disturb, kill or injure bats or to damage, destroy or obstruct access to a bat roost. “Having bats does not mean that work to buildings cannot take place, but expert advice will be needed on how to proceed. Early engagement with a licensed bat ecologist is essential to avoid extra delays and costs to the project.” 01786 434610

This project involved the replacement of the defective roof covering with new slates. Galbraith worked closely with an ecologist as they prepared the mitigation plan, licence application and oversaw all works on site. No bats were discovered during the work, but new access slates were provided to retain access to the likely roost locations.

Domestic property, perthshire  We were instructed to oversee the replacement of a dilapidated extension with a new two-storey extension. Galbraith was able to coordinate with the ecologist who was engaged to prepare a mitigation plan, licence application and oversee the works on site and ensure required protective measures were incorporated into the architect’s design. Breathable membrane was not permitted around the location of potential hibernation roosts, so felt membranes and ventilation had to be incorporated into the design.

Dilapidated farm steading, scottish Borders    The steading was not suitable for modern farming and had deteriorated to such an extent that it had become unsafe. As part of the instruction, Galbraith organised for bat surveys to be undertaken and ensured that the correct mitigating action was taken to rehouse the bats to bat boxes prior to the demolition. | property matters | summer 2019 | page 13

In search of a rental? Top tips to help you beat the competition Would-be tenants need to keep one step ahead by avoiding common application mistakes, says Sarah Hazzard.

more people are renting in scotland than ever before so prospective tenants need to ensure they are in the best possible position to secure a tenancy. avoiding these pitfalls is a good start: Be upfront about credit issues. Openness at the start of the application process is definitely a plus point. Bad credit history doesn't automatically mean being declined as a tenant, but if a tenant has kept something hidden it usually gets picked up and will go against the application being accepted. Keep things smart. Many landlords now wish to carry out their own viewings, so it is worth bearing in mind that first impressions count. This may seem trivial but landlords often see personal appearance as a guide to the care tenants will take of a property. consider the extra cost of pets. Pets can also be a deciding factor for landlords choosing between tenants, but we generally find rural property landlords are more accepting. the more disclosure the better. Landlords tend to look favourably towards working families and professional couples although this is not always the case. Again, applicants should be up-front with their letting agent and give as much background information as possible. Be prepared to act quickly. Competition for good rental properties has never been so fierce in both rural and city centre markets. Excessive delay can result in missed opportunities as properties can go in a matter of hours or days. If you've found the perfect property be proactive in letting your agent know. register on a mailing list. Early notification of properties coming to the market can make all the difference. We have an active list of more than 2,000 applicants and pride ourselves on matching tenants to properties before they are live on the market.

the perfect property isn't always on the market As both a sales and lettings agent we are able to provide additional options to both purchasers and tenants. Bridge View was originally for sale but had not attracted the desired interest. The client had mentioned letting it but had not committed fully to the idea. Then we took a call from someone whose property had fallen through. We thought Bridge View would be the perfect match for their requirements. We spoke to our client and carried out a viewing. The new tenants moved in three weeks later and have now been there for two years.

Joined-up thinking Galbraith merged with Land Factor earlier this year. Simon Brown, head of agency, explains the reasons for the deal and the opportunities it will bring.

It doesn't have to be a long, hard process We took a call one afternoon from a couple who had just sold their house and wanted to view a rental property they were standing outside. We carried out the viewing an hour later and they had their application forms in and forwarded to the Landlord within another hour. 01343 546362

page 14 | property matters | summer 2019 |

laND Factor was highly respected for its estate management and forestry work as well as urban fringe development.  However, mainstream estate agency was not something that the company had been largely involved in and the merger of the two firms brings together the local knowledge of Land Factor and the market expertise of the Galbraith estate agency division which will allow us to expand our estate agency business in the North of England. Our research consistently tells us that there is no substitute for local market knowledge and personal service. Clients value the service that we offer and recommend us because we offer advice tailored to our clients’ needs based on our years of experience. We are one of the leading rural land and property specialists in the UK. Rural estate agency is at the heart of our business and our National Farm Sales Centre in Stirling, which was established in 2010, now commands a significant share of the market. Last year we marketed 31,244 acres of farmland; 700 rural residential properties and 16 equestrian properties. From the sale of farms and large sporting, agricultural and residential estates to small

Latest information is a click away for property sellers Galbraith Tracker technology helps to keep clients up to date with their property sale. Alex Inglis reports.

ImaGINe waking up at 2am wondering about your property sale and being able to find out how many enquiries you had this week without having to wait to call your agent. Galbraith Trackers enable our clients to do just that with complete oversight of the sales process, accessed through a secure password system. Our clients have access to a diary showing pending viewings, pending offers and buyers’ details. They can also see a graph showing peaks when online enquiries occur, a list of all advertising portals and the number of enquiries generated from each. Feedback from each viewing is gathered, providing valuable data about how viewers react to their property. Any repetitive feedback is flagged up by the agent and if possible acted on to help marketing. Our trackers work so well that, on one occasion, when a viewing had been requested via email and before we had been able to speak to the viewer to arrange a suitable time, our client had been on the phone asking us about the viewing which she had seen appear on the tracker.

cottages, we offer a specialist service backed up by experts in every office. We also manage farm, forestry and estate interests on more than 3.5 million acres. The firm in its current incarnation dates from 2003 but its roots stretch back to 1837. Over the years our strategy has been to build the business through a combination of organic growth and prudent acquisitions. Adding to our presence in Northern England this year was an obvious opportunity for us and our new colleagues. Despite the continuing economic and political uncertainty at the time of writing, the dire predictions for the UK property market, in the North of England and Scotland, have not materialised. The demand for rural property is strong and is looking buoyant. We have great confidence in the UK’s ability to rise above any temporary market hesitancy and we intend to be here for our clients whatever the political and economic conditions throw at us. 01786 434602

New partners: From left, back row: Roddy Findlay, Athole McKillop and Peter Combe. Front row: Galbraith head of energy Mike Reid, Tom Warde-Aldam, Galbraith chairman Iain Russell and senior associate Matthew Williamson.

While the Galbraith Tracker is helpful, it does not take the place of the personal service our agency staff give to all our clients. The bare facts are only part of the story and no subsitute for the agent’s personal knowledge and relationship with registered buyers. Our clients’ feedback on our online Tracker has proved enlightening: “I find the Tracker system useful in as much as I can see what kind of interest our property is generating and where we are getting most of our hits from. It is also encouraging for someone as impatient as myself to see that there are people out there taking an interest in our house. So yes, I approve!” “It’s quite well laid out and intuitive to use. Useful having all the relevant information in one place. In summary, it looks like a good tool.” “The tracker is a useful resource for checking progress of the sale of our house. However, we have had such a good service from yourselves in the Kelso office keeping us updated that I have not gone into the tracker very often.” Online is now the norm but it will never take away from a personal service. In what can be a challenging market it is reassuring for our clients to know that they are working with a professional and friendly team determined to get the best for them, with the help of modern technology. 01573 224244 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 15

Horses for Rebecca March explains why you need an expert to sell an equestrian property. the equestrian market covers a range of properties from small cottages with a single stable and paddock to large yards with grazing and numerous facilities.  Add to this the array of disciplines available – pleasure riding, eventing, show jumping, dressage, endurance, carriage driving, polo and racing to name but a few – and it is no surprise that someone with equestrian knowledge is best placed to sell your property. It can be only too easy for a property with great features to get lost among all the other houses for sale. Potential purchasers can easily bypass their dream home simply because facilities have not been highlighted in the wording or photography within the brochure, web-listing or social media post. Properties with equestrian facilities may all seem the same to some agents, but to someone that has had involvement with yards this simply isn’t

Trad or trendy? The case for old-fashioned values Does the advent of online estate agents mean high-street agents will disappear? George Lorimer says the case for traditional agents is stronger than ever.

the launch of several snazzily-named online-only agents since 2014 was supposed to lead to the demise of the traditional agent.  But online agents accounted for just 7% of the UK market in 2018, far below the predictions made for their impact. Successful estate agency requires expert knowledge of a local area. Apps like Google Earth offer useful information such as distances to train stations and schools, but the traditional agent will have first-hand knowledge of these services, enabling both buyer and seller alike to make the most informed decision. In terms of offering an accurate market appraisal, it is of course easy to value an urban house in a terraced row, where the value of one will be very similar to others recently sold. The situation is rather different when it comes to valuing rural houses with land. For these properties, benefits such as the amenity value of the land are difficult to assess without professional expertise. Considering the potential to extend the property or

create an additional income stream from letting part of the house, or to replant a woodland or add equestrian facilities, means that an accurate valuation is reliant on experience. Many traditional estate agents are well known in their communities and are ambassadors of their brand. I feel personally committed to fulfilling my clients’ objectives. The online-only agents are often anonymous and cannot offer the same level of personal accountability. The online agents’ selling point is a flatrate fee, but some charge extra for negotiating a sales price, holding keys or conducting viewings. Some charge the same flat fee regardless of whether the property sells or not, which is generally

Many traditional estate agents are well known in their communities.

page 16 | property matters | summer 2019 |

not very conducive to a successful outcome! Galbraith agents are on hand for viewings and property surveys. This helps busy vendors, meaning they do not have to wait in for these appointments. During the ‘Beast from the East’ last year my colleague discovered a burst pipe in a vacant house during a pre-sale inspection. The vendor was on holiday but the agent was able to speak to him and ensure that the water main was turned off, preventing a drama turning into a disaster. The house was put on the market some weeks later and a sale has just concluded. Thankfully such situations are rare, but an online agent is unlikely to provide that service. For traditional agents there is no room for complacency. We are keenly aware that we must adapt to survive and strive to offer a comprehensive service that moves with the times. Our clients have a Tracker app (see page 15) to alert them each time a viewing is booked and can immediately read feedback from the viewer. We are increasingly using video and drone footage, plus intense social media marketing both on a local and corporate level to ensure our clients’ homes reach the widest possible audience. We believe that our personal approach and our commitment to our clients is worth every penny. 01334 659988

courses the case. For example, it is key to differentiate between a 10m x 10m timber field shelter and a 12m x 12m cobbled floor loose box with rubber matting or identify the size and surface of an arena. Having an undercover wash bay and hard standing may be of real benefit to a potential purchaser who competes regularly throughout the winter, though it may be of little interest to another. It is important to identify not only what works well for the current owner but what could benefit a purchaser. Having this level of understanding of the property allows you to adapt to the enquiries that come in. It is also important to think outside the property boundary to what facilities are available nearby. These may include areas suitable for hacking, competition venues, and the importance of access for large modern lorries. Buyers may be willing to relocate to secure the right opportunity and facilities and to attract these buyers an agent needs to know where and how to access the target audience, understand their requirements, and not waste a potential buyer’s time with unsuitable facilities. As well as identifying the right market it is

important to remember that most equestrian properties are also rural and this can bring more complexities. It is not uncommon to hear of a sale being held up by title issues cropping up during the missives. In the worst cases, they can cause a sale to fall through completely. If these can be identified and potentially rectified before the property is placed on the market, it makes the whole process a lot smoother. Do you need an expert to sell an equestrian property? At Galbraith we believe it is vital. Horses have always been part of my life from riding around the family farm on my first pony to progressing through pony club to eventing and now carriage driving trials. I’m in my fourth season competing, moving through the levels from being Intermediate Pony National Champion in 2017 to competing in my first FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) events this year.

It is important to identify not only what works well for the current owner but what could benefit a purchaser.

My mother runs an equestrian business near Edinburgh which I have been very much involved in. Through her business and competing I get to meet lots of potential buyers and sellers. We have a list of purchasers looking to secure a property in Scotland or Northern England. 0131 240 6993

Two birds with one stone Multiple properties may be better sold together or individually. It all depends, says Richard Stewart.

We are regularly asked to market multiple properties in the same ownership.

Wester Croftintygan in Perthshire was offered as a whole or in two lots – Lot 1, the farmhouse (offers over £240,000) and lot 2, the steading (offers over £150,000) – with the whole offered at offers over £390,000. It was sold to two separate parties. Splitting the property gave it exposure across the £100,000 – £400,000 property bandings.

These come in various forms, be it two adjoining cottages, principal house with detached lodge, or a house with a holiday cottage in the grounds. No two are the same, so when approaching these sales it is important to get advice from a professional with a good understanding of the local market. The constituent properties need to be valued individually to create a price breakdown. In many cases the value of the two parts will be different from the value of the whole. They may complement each other and so bolster the asking price. There are a number of reasons for this. If the properties are sold separately, there may be issues with privacy and access, which may have a negative impact on the value, so selling them together is the best option. Alternatively, marketing the properties separately may allow a greater spread across the market by listing within a range of different price bandings, including the whole

and the smaller lots which may be more affordable. When selling multiple properties it is essential to remain flexible in your approach to marketing in order to achieve a successful outcome. There will be a wide range of potential purchasers looking for multiple properties, for example families looking to move with elderly parents and have them close by, or purchasers to retire with an additional property to provide income as a holiday let. If properties are to be lotted, sellers need to be prepared to sell one property without necessarily securing a purchaser for the remaining lot at the same time. A lotted sale may require securing two or more purchasers. There may also be further issues to look at including splitting service connections. Careful consideration must be given throughout the process, taking into account the overall saleability, to generate a successful outcome. 01738 456080 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 17

Family time – and pies – on the NorthCoast 500 Bob Cherry a Galbraith partner based in Ayr, handles sales, lettings, purchases and valuations for a wide range of properties, but he grabs the chance to enjoy time with his family whenever he can and last September he cycled the entire route of the North Coast 500 with his two sons. He tells Gabbi Armstrong, marketing manager for the NC500, how much he enjoyed the experience. Gabbi Armstrong: I imagine you must be quite a fit family if you managed to cycle the whole route in seven days? Bob Cherry: We are all active but my sons obviously have age on their side! Alan is 27 and Joe is 22 and they usually run rather than cycle but they have a good level of overall fitness. We decided to complete it in seven days without any rest days as it fitted in with all our schedules. We try to do an active break once a year together if we can. How many miles did you cycle each day? We averaged about 70 miles per day. The first few days were certainly easier than the final two! Our total mileage was 509 miles. The last day was really hard – we had wanted to go on the Cromarty ferry but it was closed that day so we had a detour of nearly 15 miles, which was an added challenge! What was your favourite scenic view on the trip? So much of the route is absolutely stunning and spectacular – from Loch Carron onwards it was amazing. My favourite parts were around Torridon, the route from Dundonnell to Ullapool and the area around Assynt. Did you manage to cycle the notorious Bealach na Ba? Yes we did. It is an unrelenting climb but absolutely worth it. The views are so beautiful it’s well worth the effort. The entire route of the NC500 is hilly, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable. The route of the North Coast 500. Bob Cherry recommends cycling in a clockwise direction.

spoke resulting in a very wobbly wheel. We had to do a temporary repair and then get some help from the bike shop in Muir of Ord. They were really helpful and came out to sort it in their mobile repair van (Orange Fox Bikes – great service!). Apart from that we didn’t have any other bike problems or any punctures during the whole week. Did you have good weather? Yes, most days were fairly dry and calm. We had a couple of windy days but mostly we had the wind behind us – that’s why we decided to go in a clockwise direction to make the most of the prevailing winds. Did you see any wildlife? We saw lots of red deer, some hen harriers, red squirrels and salmon jumping – all very Scottish – which is exactly what you would hope for. Which places would you like to visit again? The north coast around Durness is really scenic and I plan to go there again, preferably on a bike. Both Joe and Alan said their favourite place to cycle was the Applecross peninsula – and the pie shop in Lochinver was another highlight of their trip! Did the long hot summer inspire you to visit the NC500 route? No, we had been planning to do the route before the summer started. Many of the hoteliers and restaurateurs were saying they had been busy all year – 2018 was a great year for them! There are lots of craft shops, activity centres and hotels all along the route now. The success of the route has been transformative and has completely fired people’s imagination. Did you stay in any unusual B&Bs? The Crask Inn was an extraordinary place – it’s in a very remote part of Sutherland near Ben Klibreck and was built in about 1815 before there was even a proper road to it. It is now owned by a Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church and holds church services and traditional music sessions – the local community are all involved. It’s really welcoming to cyclists. It has a generator for power and there are no street lights in the area. At night it’s totally dark and silent. I had my best night’s sleep in years there! I would definitely recommend a stop – there’s nowhere else quite like it.

Was the route busy with other cyclists and cars?

Do you have any tips for other cyclists?

No, it was very quiet. We chose the last week in September and we only saw about 12 other cyclists that week. There wasn’t much traffic either – I think we picked a great time to visit. We saw lots of classic cars – MGs and Porsches – from the UK and Europe. The route for vehicles differs slightly from the cycle route in some parts but drivers were very courteous and friendly throughout. There is a nice atmosphere of camaraderie on the route which isn’t necessarily the case in other parts of the UK.

We decided to go clockwise and I would recommend it because most of the time we had the wind behind us which is a considerable bonus. If you’re cycling into the wind it would be far more tiring.

Were there any hairy moments during the week? We had one mechanical malfunction – a broken

page 18 | property matters | summer 2019 |

Will you visit the NorthCoast 500 again? It was a fantastic experience and we would definitely do it again. I think we would all prefer to return by bike again rather than in a car. You are constantly going up hill and down dale, but that’s what makes it exciting and rewarding to cycle. Let’s hope the pie shop in Lochinver is still open!

Bob Cherry takes a breather to enjoy the spectaular scenery of the North Coast 500.

TOURISM BOOSTS PROPERTY SALES ON THE NC 500 THE Highlands property market appears in to be benefiting from the success of the NC500 tourist route with evidence that those who have travelled the route are deciding to experience the beauty of the North Coast 500 every day with a home in the area. Sales from our Inverness office are up 16% from 2014 when the route opened. Galbraith has an exclusive arrangement with NC500 as the only property consultancy to feature on their website. Properties for sale on the route are shown on our partner page with a link to the Galbraith website. The popularity of the route, both for those who have experienced it and in the media, has increased awareness of the Highlands and some of its less well-known areas. This has brought an increase in demand for good quality

accommodation not only from tourists, but from those moving to the area for a better lifestyle and those providing goods and services along the route. The NC500 route has reached a huge audience, with thousands of followers on social media, countless articles in the press and 50,000 copies of the tourist map sent out annually. This has undoubtedly raised awareness of the beauty of the north of Scotland and anecdotally has had an influence on the number of people wishing to relocate to to Highlands from other parts of Scotland, the UK and abroad. If you are looking for a permanent residence to buy or let, a lifestyle property such as a B&B or a holiday home, Galbraith can help you find the perfect property. | property matters | summer 2019 | page 19

Future of private rental sector looks strong Landlords should be encouraged by the stability of the private rented sector and ever-increasing demand for rental homes, says Bob Cherry.

laNDlorDs have been impacted  by a range of legislative changes  over the past three years, particularly in scotland.  However, rents are continuing to perform well, and, in our view, the private rental sector in Scotland will continue to offer good returns for those who keep abreast of their obligations. New landlords are nervous about entering the market due to the perception that there is a plethora of complex legislation with which they need to comply and that tenants cannot be removed once a tenancy agreement has been signed. Both of these are valid concerns to a certain extent, but landlords’ fears can be alleviated by working with a professional agent. At the same time more stringent controls have been imposed on lettings agents in Scotland – for example the introduction of the lettings’ agent register, Code of Practice and the requirement that agents must take additional professional examinations. These changes have resulted in two benefits for landlords using an agent for residential lets. First, agents who remain in the sector adhere to the highest professional standards and are prepared to make the investment needed to retain highly qualified staff. Second, tenants are chasing a limited supply of property. This means that rents are typically rising – properties let through Galbraith have increased by 3.9% on average over the past 12 months. In addition, landlords and their agents can select from a pool of waiting tenants, with the benefit that it is possible to engage with only the most reliable, carefully vetted tenants. Properties managed by Galbraith in the past 12 months were let very rapidly. For Scotland as a whole the average time taken to secure a tenant was just 36 days, a decrease of 25% on the previous year. The number of people applying to register as tenants with Galbraith has also increased significantly – by 37% year on year. Scotland has led the way in terms of increasing security of tenure for tenants. The rest of the UK is now

following suit. Nevertheless the market in Scotland still enables landlords to achieve a decent return on their investment and a predictable source of income. In April 2019, rents increased in every region of the UK except the North East. The largest increases were recorded in Scotland and Greater London – of 6.7% and 8.2% respectively year-on-year – according to the property listing site Rightmove. A survey by a tenants’ organisation in May this year found that almost 30% of tenants in Scotland do not aim ever to own a property, so demand for let accommodation will continue in the long term. In rural areas, the demand for let properties continues unabated. It is entirely possible to find a reliable tenant who will pay a monthly rental which is agreeable to the landlord. Farmers and landowners should consider residential lets if they have one or more properties on their land which are standing empty. Many of our clients have former farm workers’ cottages which are no longer in use. There are good reasons to hang on to these properties and to generate a regular income stream from them. The best option in most cases is to make some improvements to the property in order to attract a high-quality, longterm tenant. A good agent can advise on how best to bring your cottage into a suitable condition for letting and can advise you on how best to market the property to the right target audience. In some cases grants are available for updating a property to comply with recent energy efficiency legislation, which may offset some of the cost of improvements. Tenant activity has been buoyant across the whole of Scotland during the past quarter with some noticeable hotspots. In Ayrshire, Fife, the Borders and Stirling there is a distinct shortage of suitable rural property to let. The number of viewings we arranged last quarter increased by 34% compared with the previous quarter; the average time taken to let a property in Dumfries & Galloway was 18 days and in the Scottish Borders the figure was just nine days. Applications from tenants increased year-on-year by 64% in Ayrshire and by 75% in Stirlingshire. 01292 292 303

page 20 | property matters | summer 2019 |

as heaD of the firm’s team of agricultural mortgage corporation (amc) agents, I am often asked to provide help in funding rural property purchases.  The first question I ask prospective purchasers is whether the property would be eligible for a regulated mortgage or whether it could be deemed commercial and therefore a business loan would apply. A regulated mortgage is a loan secured by a charge over a residential property which is lived in by the borrower, family member or other close person and the purpose of the loan is not wholly or predominantly for the purpose of a business being carried out at the property. A business or commercial loan is secured on a property where business activity takes place. Many properties are difficult to fund because of ambiguity over whether or not they can be deemed residential or commercial. This principally relates to the land included in the property but also if there are any outbuildings. Many small farms in Scotland are now being bought by residential buyers who are looking for amenity properties, perhaps for equestrian or hobby farming interests. These will be deemed residential and AMC is unable to help because no business activity is taking place on the property. On the other hand some high street

Mortgage or business loan? Robert Taylor reviews the options for borrowing to buy a property and explores the grey area which sometimes exists between residential and commercial loans.

banks close the shutters on enquiries when land and/or outbuildings are mentioned before examining the property details more closely and finding out if a business does or can operate from it. This grey area can be a minefield. One possible route is to split the title and have the house on its own and then a higher loan-to-value could be achieved with the land and buildings either paid cash or funded by AMC. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the government body responsible for supervising regulated mortgages to give home owners more protection. This is a good thing, but it has caused problems in the middle ground of funding small rural properties. If a rural property has an existing regulated mortgage on it then this cannot be restructured through a commercial loan owing to its protected

Many properties are difficult to fund because of ambiguity over whether or not they can be deemed residential or commercial.

status, even though new business activity would possibly be going to take place on the property. AMC requires confirmation at the outset that more than 60% of the area of the property will be used for a business purpose. It is the area not the value which is critical here. You may have a £1m property with only 10 acres of land and a substantial dwelling but if the bulk of the property is used for a business purpose then a business loan could be secured on it. The business can be anything from livery yard to horticultural activities or intensive farming. I am often asked if a business loan is more expensive than a mortgage. This is a bit like comparing ducks with drakes. Banks offering regulated mortgages, even on a 20-year term, will insist on regular reviews every two years or so, and quite often renewal fees are applied. AMC commercial loans provide a guaranteed margin which will not change for the duration of the loan. There is a set-up fee at the start but there are no breaks or renewals for up to

30 years. This provides a significant degree of comfort to borrowers that they will not be faced with substantial increases in their margins at some stage in the future. This should not be confused with fixed rates which can be offered both commercially and on a regulated mortgage basis. AMC offer an unrivalled ability to fix long term and for up to 30 years, however the risk of breakage costs must be factored in should the loan need to be repaid early. Galbraith carries out valuations for secured lending on behalf of all of the recognised high street banks for commercial purposes including smallholdings, livery yards and intensive farming businesses, and we have a number of AMC agents across our network of offices. 07585 901847 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 21

Learning to look after your septic tank


It may not be glamorous, but the septic tank has a vital role, says David Corrie. uNDerstaNDING the significant role septic tank systems play is important for any rural homeowner.

clear or toilets backing up? This can indicate blocked pipes, an overfull tank or a blocked soakaway.

It is equally important for professionals like ourselves to have a good grounding of such systems, especially when it comes to providing advice during the sale of a property. As part of the conveyancing process, you are required to give the purchaser details such as the location and type of the septic tank system.

Tank: Maintain an accessible, well fitting cover. This is essential for your safety. There should be no smell from the tank.

In Scotland, you must register your septic tank with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency before January 1, 2020. In England, under the Environment Agency’s ‘General Binding Rules’ which came into force in 2015, if your septic tank discharges directly into a watercourse you must replace or upgrade it to a full sewage treatment plant before January 1, 2020 or when you sell your property, whichever is earlier. Mickey Ball of WC in Fields, specialists in domestic and commercial septic tank cleaning services in south-west Scotland and Cumbria, answers some of the questions people ask about septic tanks. Where is a septic tank located on my property? If your property is not served by the public sewerage system, then your sewage and waste water are probably treated by a septic tank. Your tank will normally be downhill from your property. Look for a metal or concrete lid – this may be overgrown or have become covered with soil. If this fails, your title deeds or local knowledge may help. It is also important to note that your tank may not be on your land and may be shared with neighbouring properties. How does a septic tank work? Waste water from toilets, sinks, showers and household appliances drains to your septic tank. Sewage solids are retained by the tank. Your septic tank is a living ecosystem where beneficial bacteria digest sewage, which is why it is so important not to kill the bacteria in your tank. The resulting sludge must be removed regularly by a SEPA licensed contractor. Liquid effluent flows out of the tank. The effluent usually drains into the ground via a soakaway where it is cleansed and filtered by the soil. Why should you look after your septic tank? You have a legal responsibility to maintain your septic system and ensure it is kept in good working order. A neglected septic tank is a serious health risk, so you will be protecting your family’s health. An ignored septic tank can also cause harm to the environment. If the system fails it will be expensive to repair. What checks should be make? Household drainage: Are any drains slow to

Soakaway: If the soakaway is swampy, smelly or has prolific grass growth it has become clogged. To avoid this keep a check on the system and have the tank emptied regularly. Discharge: Check the inspection chamber and the end of the discharge pipe. A pale liquid with little or no smell is normal. If the discharge is dark, smelly or contains solids then there is a problem. Vegetation: Deep rooting trees and shrubs can damage your system. Keep them at least 30 metres from the tank, soakaway and drains. Keep nearby vegetation mown short. How often should the tank be emptied? If your septic tank has not been emptied in the last year you should carry out the recommended checks immediately. A build-up of sludge is the most common cause of problems. If in any doubt, have your tank emptied. If you delay emptying your tank you risk ruining your soakaway and polluting the environment. How can you reduce the need to have the tank emptied? All tanks need to be emptied. How often depends on the number of users, the size of tank and how well you care for the system. Any key dos and don’ts? Do... • Find your septic tank, soakaway and discharge point. • Check all parts of your septic system regularly. • Have your tank emptied regularly. • Protect your soakaway: sow grass over it if possible. • Only use household products that do not contain chlorine bleach, which kills all bacteria. • Avoid putting fat down the kitchen sink – wipe oily pans with kitchen towel before washing. Don’t... • Flush anything other than bodily waste and toilet paper down the toilet. • Put paints, solvents or chemicals down the drains. • Use caustic soda or drain cleaners to clear blockages, try rodding or hot water. • Connect rainwater drainage pipes into your septic tank. 01556 505 346

page 22 | property matters | summer 2019 |

Fix it ...or flog it? Selling a property in need of refurbishment? Richard Stewart has some top tips for enhancing its value without spending a fortune.



Fixer-uppers: 1 – Cleanside Cottage, Stanley, Perthshire, marketing price offers 0ver £120,000, sold price £110,000. 2 – Littleton of Fonab, Pitlochry, Perthshire, marketing price offers over £170,000, sold price £196,110. 3 – Holmiry, Glenisla, Perthshire, marketing price offers over £350,000, sold price £400,000.

there are many reasons why people find themselves with surplus property in need of refurbishment.  As agents, we are regularly asked what should be done to enhance the value of a property before a sale. It is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question as every property is different, but here are some of our top tips.

DO... make the property presentable Typically properties in need of refurbishment will still have little mementoes of the previous owners, ranging from a neon pink wall to an old bathtub in the garden. Generally we would not advise repainting the whole property, however, if there is a particular room with peeling wallpaper or dirty carpet it may be worthwhile addressing these. The internal décor may be dated, but purchasers will appreciate the property for what it is so be aware of issues that can be created by doing up one area and leaving another as the contrast can make the poor areas look even worse.

make it clean and tidy In some cases it can be worthwhile getting a professional company in to give the property “a deep clean” as this

will allow people to see what they are getting. Likewise, cut the grass and prune back any overgrown bushes. When taking on a project, purchasers want to see the bare bones of what they are dealing with.

quotations for addressing these issues, however, it is not essential to put your hand in your own pocket. Show people solutions to problems and the potential for the property and allow the possibilities to do the selling.

Often painting the front door, windows and guttering can brighten up an old tired looking house without breaking the bank.


air the property This is particularly relevant if the property has been unoccupied for a while or previous occupants restricted ventilation in the property during their occupancy. Potential purchasers will have a negative feeling for the property especially if they can still smell it in the car on the way home!

remember people like a project  (as long as it is not too big!) A number of potential purchasers will be attracted by the fact that the property is a “fixer upper” as they feel that they will be given the opportunity to put their mark on the property and hopefully add value over time. There are no hard and fast rules and it is always worth chatting through any issues or potential plans with an agent ahead of starting work. If there are issues, such as damp or rot, we would recommend that you obtain

spend a small fortune  Installing high quality kitchens and bathrooms isn’t worthwhile as it is unlikely the cost of these installations will be recouped in the sale. Everyone has different tastes and a £30,000 kitchen may look good to one purchaser and terrible to another. Remember people like to make their own mark on a property and will resent a brand new kitchen if it is not to their taste.

try to disguise any issues Generally buyers are pretty savvy and will be aware of the potential issues that come from buying a rundown home. Above all, the purchasers look for honesty and often, if the property smells of paint, they will wonder what is hiding behind that fresh layer of magnolia. 01738 456080 | property matters | summer 2019 | page 23


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