Tax changes for residential landlords

My lovely accountants, the Long Partnership, have started their own YouTube channel and this week’s soundbite is about the tax changes for residential landlords.  Much food for thought and well worth two and a half minutes of your time.  I’m wondering if I should stick to holiday cottages rather than going into buy-to-let, as they’re not affected by the changes and there’s a wonderful local cleaning company who can do the changeovers for me.

Take your marks…

Don’t move, don’t breathe, don’t speak, but I think we’re nearly there.  We’re down to ONE outstanding query with the seller’s solicitor, which they’re looking into, and my solicitor has asked me to deposit funds with them so that they’re ready to transfer them once it’s been resolved satisfactorily.

Village marketwatch – next door has gone up for sale.  It’s a little bigger than Ethel’s House with better outbuildings, similar views and 29 acres, and it’s been valued on the home report at £235,000, which is very cheering.  They’ve done a fabulous job of decorating it inside though, I’m not sure I’ll quite achieve the same finish, but I’m going to try.

And going to be nosey at their home report has a downside, as I think I’ve found project number 2.  If it’s still up for sale by the time Ethel’s House is done, then I will definitely be going to have a look at it (though you can guess what sort of condition it’s in by the fact that it’s being advertised in the ‘land’ section and is on at offers over £45,000!!).


Getting down to business

Still no news here on when I’ll complete on the croft purchase.  I can’t even get hold of my solicitor at the moment to find out what the delay is!

In the meantime, if anyone fancies going into business up here on the north coast, there are a couple of opportunities coming up in the auctions.

The Schoolhouse restaurant at John o’Groats has been closed for a while now, but as you can see from old Trip Advisor reviews, it was well-loved.

john o'groats - schoolhouse restaurant

It has a guide price of £80,000, a considerable drop from the offers over £145,000 DM Hall had it listed at when it first came up for sale.  John o’Groats has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years, with Natural Retreats coming in and restoring the main hotel and building eco-lodges, so it could be a good opportunity for someone to revive the restaurant again.

If cooking isn’t your thing, how about a spot of retailing? Two shop units that are usable as one shop with a guide of £55,000.

thurso - shop

I have a funny feeling I may have mentioned this in an auction post before, but hey ho.  This, along with the unit to its right as you look at it, used to be one of those rummage-y shops that did a little bit of everything, though it leaned more towards DIY stuff.  It’s a bit off the main drag, but fine for a destination shop and there’s plenty of free parking nearby.

Ethel’s House is a Wreck of the Week!

Wreck of the Week is one of my favourite blogs, so I was delighted to see that the most recent post was on Highland crofts and even more delighted to see that Ethel’s House was listed as one of Sue’s picks!  She’s obviously cleverer than I am, as she’s managed to extract the selling solicitor’s picture from the listing, so if you want to see what the outside currently looks like, go and have a look – and have a drool over the other five crofts as well :

Right house, wrong place

Sorry for the radio silence this week, but there’s been no news here on the house front – so this post is going to be a bit of a blast from the past.

When I was going through the auction listings last weekend, I noticed a few for sale in Lybster and that reminded me of the house we nearly bought there.  Originally our plan wasn’t to move up straight away, it was to have a project/holiday house that we could work on over the years and then hopefully take early retirement to.  The one we nearly bought was called Kirkstyle House in a small village called Lybster on the east coast of Caithness.

Unfortunately I’ve deleted all the pictures I had of it when we went to view it, back in 2007, but trust me, it didn’t look anywhere near as up-together and well-finished as it does here:
Kirkstyle House

That long room on the end used to be the village bakery and in the main part of the house there are four bedrooms, a good-sized living room and kitchen and a bathroom (I think the current owners have added an en-suite to one of the bedrooms, as I don’t remember being there originally).  It was on the market for £75,000 and we got all the way to putting in a formal offer, subject to mortgage valuation survey.  In the end, the surveyor decided there was an issue over something (I can’t even remember what, it might have been the roof), put a £20k retention on the valuation and we didn’t have enough cash to make up the difference.  Thank goodness.

Because someone did come along and buy it and did it up absolutely beautifully and stuck it back on the market several years ago.  It’s still for sale.  Let me stress here, if the people who own it ever read this – I think they’ve done an amazing job with the house, the interiors are completely unrecognisable from when I saw it.  It’s just that Lybster is an awkward place to live.  It’s about 13 miles south of Wick and I don’t think the bus service is that regular, so you need to drive if you want to commute to work in Wick.  It’s just that bit too far to be a comfortable commute to Thurso, let alone Dounreay, though I think people do.  And while Lybster is a lovely place to have a holiday in (indeed, Kirkstyle is also available as a holiday cottage here), it’s a tricky place to sell a house in, especially when other sellers in the local market are slashing their prices.  Compare £155,000 for Kirkstyle with a guide price of £175,000 for this 8-bed country house nearby:


Or a guide of just £67,000 for a 4-bed end of terrace:

Averon, Lybster

What the village really needs in order to thrive again, in my opinion, is for the hotel to re-open and, after a series of leaseholders opening and closing it, the hotel company has put it on the market for £350,000:

Portland Arms, Lybster

It used to be a really great place to go for lunch and hosted some of the best weddings in the county, hopefully someone will buy it and turn it into a thriving business once again.

UPDATE APRIL 2016:  Kirkstyle sold for the asking price earlier this month and the hotel reopened at the end of March.  Here’s to a bright future for Lybster!