The Scottish lion may have roared, to quote Alex Salmond, by electing a strong batch of SNP MPs in May’s General Election but should we be sitting up and taking notice of Scotland beyond its political might?
With Scottish issues to the fore might now be the ideal time to consider what opportunities the country actually holds? Buy-to-let has been a popular and lucrative way to make money, trumping many other forms of investment over the past 20 years, but choosing where and when to invest is crucial to getting most from your money. Here’s why you should consider looking north of the border…
In black and white terms you want to buy-to-let a property in a part of the country where the yield is highest. This figure represents the proportion of the property’s value the buyer can expect to earn in a year and that’s where Scotland delivers some pretty impressive numbers. While some areas in London and the south-east have a yield in the region of one or two per cent, the figure in Scotland can be eight and above. Big cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen enjoy strong demand for rental properties – be that from the student population, the young who cannot afford to buy and, in Aberdeen’s case, the oil industry – and don’t have an abundant supply of housing. With prices much lower than the south-east but demand, and therefore rent, high it makes for a sound investment.
Stamp Duty is no more in Scotland. It has, as of April 1 2015, been replaced by the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. That could work in Scotland’s favour when it comes to property investment – especially those in the buy-to-let market. Unlike the rest of the UK, this tax is not paid below £145,000 – opening up a larger section of the market that is completely free of this up-front cost. Stamp duty is typically a headache for any property purchaser and freeing it from many homes that students or young families wish to rent could make Scotland the idea market for buy-to-let in 2015.
Scotland looks to be a pretty stable bet for an investor. The economy is growing – albeit slowly – which is positive for jobs and wages and, therefore, the strength of the rental market. Some investors may have been put off by the uncertainty of the 2014 independence referendum but the picture appears more settled now, with Scotland toreceive further devolution instead. The important thing when it comes to housing is to look at where the demand for rent will be boosted by such stability and growth. In Dundee the call centre and service sector is strong, Aberdeen needs to cater for workers in the oil industry and Glasgow and Edinburgh are student hotspots as well as general economic powerhouses. Different cities and areas have their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s important to research not only the city but the areas within each city that have a strong yield potential. Scotland has a number of different locations that are attractive to an investor and looks set to be a stable and varied environment to cash in on buy-to-let opportunities as a result.
Buying a house, whether it be to let or to live, is a long and sometimes complicated process. As long as you make sure you know what the purchase entails – and this step-by-step guide to buying in Scotland from the Money Advice Service is good for that – there’s good reason to think Scotland could be the ideal place to invest this year.