The Great Hot Tub Debate

One of the long-running arguments in this house about just how high-spec we’re going to make this holiday cottage has been centred round a hot tub. My husband thinks it’s an absolute essential. I’ve been pointing out that since we’re on the north coast of Scotland it’s likely going to be (a) raining, (b) blowing a gale, (c) freezing, (d) midge city.

seaside-694378_1920

However, today he came home with what might just be a killer blow to my anti-hot-tub sentiments.  A friend of his is looking at buying a holiday cottage further south, in Aviemore, and has found that houses with a hot tub can command a premium of £200-250 a week over ones without.

That’s not a figure to be sniffed at, so I did some research and it does seem that hot tubs are pretty in demand for holiday homes – I was wondering if the extra income would be negated by lower occupancy, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, or at least not significantly so.  I also considered the fact that Aviemore is the hub of winter sports in the Highlands and the tourists it attracts are sporty, outdoor types who would appreciate a soak at the end of a hard day out in the hills, but then thinking about my target market for this house, which is a relatively high-income couple with children looking for somewhere they can surf, walk, mountain bike, play on the beach etc. – it actually describes one of my brothers-in-law’s family to a T and they absolutely adore their hot tub.

I’m guessing ‘watch the Northern Lights from the comfort of our hot tub’ might be a pretty good selling point.  Next time I’m down in Inverness I’ll take a detour to Nairn and go and talk to our local dealers/installers.

Get set…

So I won’t be getting the keys for Christmas, but I’m a gigantic step closer – my solicitor has just emailed to say that the final query has been resolved and if I’m happy, then she is happy to issue the letter concluding missives.  (If you’re unfamiliar with the Scottish house-buying system, concluding missives means that you’ve bought it – you cannot now back out of the transaction without incurring very heavy financial penalties.)

All that needs to happen now is for the executor to sign the transfer paperwork and for the Crofting Commission to confirm acceptance of the transfer and put me on the Crofting Register as the tenant.  Hopefully we should be done and dusted some time next month and then the real work begins!

3% levy on second homes

taxes-1015399_1920

Well, I was feeling slightly smug for a few weeks about Scotland not being affected by the 3% surcharge for buying a second home that was announced in the Autumn Statement, but despite the SNP’s avowed loathing of Westminster, they’ve not hesitated in going, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea,’ and doing exactly the same for LBTT (Land and Building Transactions Tax, our version of stamp duty).

Scottish Budget: New 3% levy for buying second homes

I’m really not sure what the recent flurry of legislation affecting landlords is supposed to do, other than reduce the amount of rental stock, thus pushing rents up.  Anyway, if my purchase looks like it’s going to get anywhere close to not completing by the date this comes in (unlikely, but then I thought I’d be six weeks into renovations by now!), I shall be strongly suggesting that the seller pays it.

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.

Rental reforms in Scotland

An interesting entry on PropertyHawk’s blog this morning about changes to the private rented sector tenancy system in Scotland.  Full details of what the Scottish Parliament is proposing can be found here, but in summary:

  • No more ‘no-fault’ repossessions, i.e. you can’t simply ask a tenant to leave because their tenancy has ended.
  • Tenancies will not roll over.  At the moment, when a Short Assured Tenancy expires, the tenancy simply continues on a month-to-month basis if a new one isn’t signed.
  • Notice to Quit will be 4 weeks if the tenant has been in the property fewer than six months, 12 weeks if more than six months (changed from 28-40 days currently).  Notice to Quit on the tenant’s side is also 4 weeks up to six months, but only 8 weeks for longer.

They’re also planning to introduce a model tenancy agreement.

for-rent-148891_1280

Rents up here aren’t hugely expensive, but one thing that snuck into Nicola Sturgeon’s speech on this yesterday that will probably send a shiver down the spine of landlords further south in Scotland was:  “I can also announce today that the Bill will include provisions for rent controls in rent pressure areas.

It’ll be interesting to see what the eventual legislation looks like and how it affects the rental market across the country.