Friday, 23 September 2016

Douglas Dickson profiled in The Herald

We were delighted to appear in The Herald within their regular and popular SME Focus slot.

The profile can be found be on their website here:

We hope you enjoy reading it and feel free to get in touch.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Brexit concerns for the buy-to-let market

Landlords, and those considering investment into the buy-to-let market, will have been keeping an anxious eye on the news, even before June 23rd and the vote to leave the EU. 
Clear waters may seem a long way off, but there are encouraging signs on the horizon, and with the experienced hands of such seasoned property experts as Douglas Dickson on the tiller, landlords can find a course through the storm.

The opening of the £842 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital has created a ‘mini-boom’ in housing in Govan and Glasgow’s South West. With 10,589 staff looking for property an easy commute from the 1,677 bed hospital, there are great opportunities for landlords to rent to professional tenants.

Douglas Dickson has already steered a number of investors towards property in the South West and surrounding areas with our buy-to-let service, helping them to take advantage of this increased rental demand.

With the hospital likely to be fully staffed by the end of summer, there is still time for the canny investor to purchase good rental properties.

With the uncertainty of Brexit affecting the residential property market, large swathes of first time buyers are finding that the deposits they had saved are not enough to secure a home.

This, coupled with a lack of good affordable properties on the market, is helping to fuel rental demand throughout Glasgow, which remains a very attractive city to study and work.
Douglas Dickson is achieving rent increases for its landlords and renting most properties back-to-back without any void periods.

The completion of the new hospital has allowed the sale of the old Victoria Infirmary Campus, and the Sanctuary Group is in discussions with Glasgow City Council to develop beautiful homes, retaining key heritage features from the historic site.

Between this, and the approval of plans to build 152 new houses in Ibrox, 36 of them aimed at mid-market rents, the future of Glasgow’s housing supply seems hopeful.

Brexit may have created a storm of uncertainty across the UK, but the fundamentals of the rental market remain unchanged and, with expert advice from Douglas Dickson, there are excellent investments to be made.

For further information, contact Neil Livingstone, Douglas Dickson Property Management Limited, 3 Fitzroy Place, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G3 7RH. T: 0141 221 1827. F: 0141 248 6733. E: W:

Wednesday, 1 June 2016


Becoming a landlord can be a big step. Many people, including professionals and others with years of business experience often hesitate before choosing to invest in this dynamic marketplace.

This reticence is understandable, but when newcomers elect to work alongside seasoned property experts such as those at Douglas Dickson, the entire process becomes significantly less daunting.

At Douglas Dickson we act each year on behalf of a great many people new to the letting business and we pride ourselves in giving each of them the best back-up and support services on the market.

Below, we have put together three frequently-asked questions from those embarking on the exciting voyage of being a landlord, together with some reassuring advice which should put even the most hesitant newcomer at ease.

  • How will I know about and comply with all the necessary regulations?

Douglas Dickson helps all our landlords to be good landlords. We help you comply with all the regulations. Did you know, for example, that from 1st December 2015, all new tenancies, including renewals, are required to have the electrics in the property checked by a qualified electrician every five years? It is a fixed wiring report, known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report.

We stay ahead of the game and keep our knowledge current so that we can help our landlords comply with the latest regulations and all other existing ones too. So if you haven't heard of or don't know about the regulations for EPCs, landlord registration, hard wired smoke detectors, gas safety certificates, CO detectors or tenant deposit schemes, amongst others, you can call us and we will keep you right.

  • How will I find a good tenant for my property?

Your rental property is likely to be one of your most valuable possessions. Anyone can find you a tenant but finding the right tenant is the job of a good agent. You need to be able to trust your agent to manage your asset and keep it safe. Many problems arise from having poor tenants.

At Douglas Dickson we secure our landlords good tenants by properly vetting them. We meet all applicants, carry out tenant referencing, employment verifications or obtain a guarantor. This helps avoids future problems of late payment of rent or having to take action to recover a property from a tenant who stops paying rent.

Because we actively manage tenants on our landlords’ behalf, we have not had to evict any tenants over the last 5 years and in the past 12 months, nearly all our tenants have paid their rent on time, with over 98% with no arrears.

  • How will I manage emergency maintenance?

Douglas Dickson takes the stress out of managing emergency repairs to your property and operates a 24 hours emergency helpline service for all our tenants.

Here are some recent examples of how we helped our landlords keep their tenants happy:

·         Problem: We had a call at 8pm at night from a tenant whose front door lock jammed and would not open. She could not get into their flat. She called our emergency helpline and we arranged for one of our trusted contractors to attend within the hour and repair the lock.

Result: an extremely grateful tenant who thinks very highly of the service her landlord is providing to her.

·         Problem: A tenant called our emergency number one evening with a report that he had a burst pipe which had flooded the bathroom and the neighbour below. We arranged for an emergency plumber to attend and repair the leak. On the landlord’s behalf, we liaised with the insurers and arranged for a contractor to repair and replace the damage to the flooring and decoration and ensured the areas affected had dried out.

Result: a very happy landlord whose property has been repaired and tenants who know they are well looked after by their landlord.

Douglas Dickson Property Management promotes high standards within the rented sector. Our landlords, we believe, are the good guys. We recognise landlords provide a valuable service, providing people with homes. 
Using a proven and highly-experienced agent like Douglas Dickson will ensure your property is maintained to comply with the current regulations, is rented to the right tenants and is always managed competently and effectively, even in emergencies.
We help give landlords a good name.  


Healthy increases in rents make Glasgow an attractive proposition for buy-to-let investors

Healthy increases in rents make Glasgow an attractive proposition for buy-to-let investors

By Neil Livingstone

Landlords have been heard saying that yield and capital gains are less important than remaining cash-flow neutral - that is, where a tenant pays the mortgage and, at the end of the mortgage period, the investor owns the property for what is essentially the cost of the deposit.

One place, however, where rental income still remains an attractive proposition in its own right is Glasgow, where properties are much more affordable than elsewhere and rental ratios are keeping their heads up.

This is in marked contrast to other UK areas - particularly already overheated markets such as London and the South East - where rental income on low-yielding properties is likely to be lower relative to investors' mortgage costs.

The recent quarterly rental report by Citylets found that rents in Scotland as a whole had increased 2.1% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the previous 12 months. In the Glasgow metropolitan area, the increase was higher at 4.6% in the year, with one-bedroom properties rising even faster at 8.8%.  

In real money, that makes the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom property now £546, with a two-bedroom property on average renting out for £721 and three-bedroom going on average for £991 a month.

There is evidence that almost every flat which becomes available for rent in Glasgow is attracting between eight to ten individual applicants, and agents are having to turn away potential quality tenants.

Some agents are even reporting that landlords in Edinburgh - itself a hotspot - are being attracted to Glasgow because it offers better value. Yes, rents are lower, but so are prices, so returns remain beguiling.

Our view at Douglas Dickson is that there continues to be a real shortage of supply of good quality, well managed rental properties in the Glasgow area and a high tenant demand.

Douglas Dickson is achieving rent increases for its landlords and renting most properties back-to-back without any void periods. This is good news for landlords and for those who are considering becoming landlords in Glasgow.

If you have a property you are looking to rent, we can help. Or if you are considering purchasing a buy-to-let, we offer a dedicated service where we will help you find a great investment property.

Neil Livingstone is a director of Douglas Dickson Property Management Limited.
For further information, contact Neil Livingstone, Douglas Dickson Property Management Limited, 3 Fitzroy Place, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G3 7RH. T: 0141 221 1827. F: 0141 248 6733. E: W:

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Customer Survey results are in...

At Douglas Dickson we strive always to go that extra mile to keep our tenants and landlords happy and try consistently to improve our levels of service.

There is no mystery to why we try so hard: happy customers tend to keep coming back and, just as satisfying, are usually inclined to recommend us to others.

But while anecdotal evidence and a feel-good factor are all very well, there is no substitute for hard evidence of what our customers actually think of us.

To this end we recently conducted an extensive customer survey and, we are delighted to say, the results were highly gratifying.

Here are some highlights:


·         94% of customers would recommend us to a friend or family member. 35% were extremely likely to do so.

·         Our staff scored 82% or above on helpfulness, professionalism and speed of response.

·         We scored top marks for response to service and maintenance at 64%.

·         82% were either satisfied or very satisfied when being informed about when tradespeople would call.

·         94% of our customers are extremely satisfied with the level of communication they receive from us.

·         47% of our customers think we are significantly better than other agents.

Testimonials from survey:

·         “Very helpful whenever help was required and new furniture and home appliances were fixed/replaced when necessary”

·         “I feel they (Douglas Dickson) were very easy to approach with any problems or queries that my flatmates and I may have had”

·         “Much more approachable/helpful/friendly than any letting agent used in previous seven years of renting in Glasgow”

·         “I have rented from both large companies and private landlords. I think you guys have a nice balance. I don't feel just like another number…”

Whilst recognising we still have work to do we are suitably chuffed.

The benchmark has now been set at a high standard and our challenge is both to maintain and improve upon it. The results show that our 30+ years in the market means we know what we are talking about.

As always, to discuss anything you have seen in this blog or simply to arrange a convenient time to meet for a chat about the Glasgow property market, please call us on 0141 221 1827 or visit our website for more


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Five Top Tips to Improve Your Property

We have spent a lot of time in properties getting them to look as good as possible and advising landlords on how to make the most of the property. Here are 5 top tips to consider.

1.      Sometimes a landlord has to go back to basics and replace flooring. With any interior choices for a property it is tempting to assert your own taste, or to go for whatever is cheapest. Neither will give you the outcome you want.

You need to think practically: look at up-to date materials whose features will prolong the need to repurchase again in the future and always have any flooring or carpeting fitted professionally.

Most importantly, think about the outcomes of your choices: the noise from bare or wooden floors which can upset the neighbours, the wear and tear to high traffic areas, and the colour choices that will suit the interior and furniture that may already be in place.

2.      Window dressing is more than just an aesthetic consideration for a rental property. Blocking out the light from a bedroom can improve the quality of your tenants’ sleep and make them happier in their home.

Whilst ready-made curtains may not be expensive, they come sometimes with thermal linings that will improve the temperature in the property and help also to keep energy bills down.

3.      In our experience there is little difference between a box and a frame bed if it is solid in construction. It is the mattress that makes all the difference.

Invest in a bed frame rather than a box if you want to create the feeling of more space and invest in an orthopedic mattress if you want to ensure you have a happy tenant.

4.      Do not dump old furniture that you no longer want into a rental property. It will already have most of the life knocked out of it and will require replacing sooner rather than later.

It is possible the furniture may not meet all the necessary legal requirements and, most likely, it will not be the right size for the room. Crowding a property with too much furniture will turn off a potentially good tenant.

Smaller, better designed, scaled pieces of furniture, are not hard to come by and your property agent will advise you on which pieces, materials and design last longest and should even be in a position to purchase them for you.

5.      Never under estimate the need for storage, especially in a bedroom. A few shelves will not attract a good tenant. Invest in few sturdy matching, scaled pieces of bedroom furniture.

A double wardrobe, matching drawers, and if you providing for student accommodation, a desk, is always a winner.
For more information please get in touch

Monday, 18 April 2016

Transcript of BBC Radio Scotland interview

Link to full interview via BBC iplayer here:

Previous interview was Graham Brown of Shelter Scotland, interviewed by Isobel Fraser.

Bill Whiteford from BBC interviewing Neil Livingstone, Douglas Dickson Property Management

[From 01:15:54]

Bill Whiteford: “Well, listening to that is Neil Livingstone, director of letting agents Douglas Dickson Property management, based in Glasgow. Morning to you.”

Neil Livingston: “Good morning”

BW: “It’s interesting, isn’t it? We’ve seen actually a change, almost by default, in the sort of mix in housing in Scotland haven’t we? Away from council housing and even owned property, to this sort of private letting, which is taking over.”

NL: “Well, I think the increasing numbers of private landlords who have moved into the market, certainly over the past ten years, is probably a direct response to many, many years, in my view, of underinvestment in social housing, in one aspect. And, secondly, since the financial crisis in 2009, it certainly has been a lot harder for for tenants...”

BW: {Interrupting} “it’s been difficult to buy, for first time buyers.”

NL: “Yes, a lot harder for them to access finance. So you’ve had these two factors of years and years of lack of investment in social housing, and secondly shortage of supply in building of new properties.”

BW: “There’s certainly a shortage of supply of houses all round.  So that’s social housing to let, and also for people to buy. Where have the buy to let landlords come from. Why the sudden boom in people who own just one, or just one or two flats, say?”

NL: “Well, certainly, from our perspective, we still see the buy to let sector as an attractive investment opportunity for landlords, and they’re coming into the market to really provide a service, and in our experience, most landlords, and certainly all the landlords we represent, and good quality letting agents represent are providing a good quality service to tenants. So they’re coming in because there’s an economic incentive to be there. There’s a marked economic drive, when you’re getting one percent, barely one percent return in bank interest for your money, and you’ve got cash sitting there, the private rented sector is still a relatively attractive opportunity.”

BW: “I’m sure there are some great landlords, but it does look as if some are racking up the rents. 7.3% higher here?”

NL: “I would dispute those figures. Certainly from our experience managing the landlords that we represent. Most...All landlords from our experience want to retain their tenants. If you’ve got a good tenant, you want to keep your tenant in there. If you think that they’re sitting in, probably one of your largest investments, you want somebody who’s going to be in there, looking after it. So actually most, many, landlords don’t increase rents while they have a tenant in there, and most others tend to be very modest increase. The evidence that certainly we have, from our portfolio that we manage it’s certainly modest increases, and I’m talking particularly for the Glasgow market, that’s where we’re in. Just to quote you some other statistics that I’ve come across, the Office for national Statistics recently quoted that rental prices in England increased by 2.8% in the last twelve months, and in Scotland it was 0.7%. And this would also be backed up by LettingWeb, who are an online letting agency/portal acting in Scotland, and their recent quarterly report, is up to the winter quarter of 2016; is that one bedroom flats in Glasgow have only increased 2% over the past twelve months, so after our variations, actually the evidence that we have is that it’s more modest, and there has been...

BW: {Interrupting} “It’s still more than inflation. So what is the average rental cost per month? It’s something about seven hundred pounds, seven hundred and fifty pounds a month?”

NL: “Certainly for the...I’ve got the figures for the one bed properties in Glasgow areas, it’s about five hundred and eleven pounds and two beds are closer to six hundred and fifty pounds.”

BW: “Ultimately, do you think we’ll be faced with the sort of rents that there are in London where there’s a chronic property shortage. I see that the average rent on a new tenancy is fifteen hundred pounds.”

NL: “I don’t see that in the Glasgow market and the Scottish market. I think we don’t have...It comes down, ultimately, to supply and demand issues and we’re not seeing the same levels of house price growth that you see in the south of England as well, whereas there’s been more modest house price growth in Scotland as well, which would suggest there is more of an equilibrium of supply and demand and, in the medium to long terms, the solution to all these problems is; build more houses. Planners should be releasing more land to build houses on.”

BW: “Okay. Neil Livingston from Douglas Dickson property management, thanks very much.”


Good Morning Scotland interview Neil Livingstone on private landlords

Listeners to the Good Morning Scotland programme on BBC Radio Scotland this past Saturday, the 16th of April, had the opportunity to hear our own Neil Livingstone talking to Bill Whiteford on the increase in private landlords in the Scottish housing market.

Neil spoke at length to Bill regarding the change in Scotland’s housing mix, and the apparently above inflation increases in rent paid by tenants to private landlords. He was able to correct some of the misapprehensions BBC Radio Scotland had over the percentage increases in rents.

Douglas Dickson’s advice has always been to show typical returns of 5 to 6% from the rental income in addition to the expectation of modest capital growth from rising house prices. We know the value to an investing landlord of having a good, reliable tenant who looks after the property, and Neil put that point across in the five minute interview.

However, greater numbers of private landlords are entering the market to provide a service to their tenants, and to realise a return on investment far in excess of the one percent or less offered by banks. Neil was asked why the balance was shifting in the mix of Scotland’s housing stock, and replied as follows;

“One, private landlords are filling a gap left by years upon years of chronic underinvestment in the social housing market by successive governments. The demand for affordable housing has outstripped growth of housing stock, and private landlords have stepped into the breach, providing housing for the large swathes of Scots for whom purchasing is not a realistic option.

“Secondly, the aftermath of the 2009 financial crisis is still felt, in a lack of large scale construction projects, and a general ‘skittishness’ among lenders. Of course, the more stringent rules removing self-certification created greater stability, and a reduction in mortgage defaults. However, they have made it harder to obtain finance for many.”

This is the ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances Neil described, and has led to significant investment opportunities for those thinking of becoming private landlords, even with the modest 0.8% rent increases listed by the Office for National Statistics.

A full transcript of the interview can be found in another blog Transcript of BBC Radio Scotland interview.

For further information, contact Neil Livingstone, T: 0141 221 1827 E: W:

Monday, 4 April 2016

Success story: a Buy-To-Let case study

Douglas Dickson’s Buy-To-Let service guides people who want to become landlords in Glasgow. Our experience and market knowledge has led to many great outcomes.

Recently we were approached by an investor looking for a property investment which combined a good financial return with a low stress factor.

With our extensive local knowledge, we were able to deliver since our business is both to manage properties for all our landlords and to remove all the hassles they might face. We pride ourselves on providing both a great financial return and an equally great service.

Our service starts at the property finding stage. Using our contacts and knowledge we create a short list of properties that have strong tenant demand and can also offer a reasonable capital growth, typically, we estimate, of 6%.

We asses properties with a number of factors in mind but, importantly, we assess each property’s existing condition in relation to its potential to have value added to it in the future.

As anyone who has ever watched BBC’s Homes under the Hammer knows, there are many small upgrades a good landlord can make to optimise the value of his or her property investment.

We can accompany our prospective landlords on viewings, but more helpful to most clients is our guidance, based on years of experience, through the pros and cons of each property once they have viewed our short list.

In a recent case, it took the viewing of just three properties before our landlord found exactly what he was looking for, and all in broad agreement with our recommendations.

We were able also to recommend our well established legal advisors to help the new landlord complete his purchase quickly and, once completed, our team swung into action, cleaning and doing everything that was required from fixing squeaky doors and updating appliances, to fitting out the property to meet all legal requirements.

In all we fully furnished, marketed and showed the property, found a great tenant and moved them in, all within just two weeks.

And the best news of all was that due to our experience and negotiation skills, the final return we were able to offer our investor was more than we initially estimated: 7.5 per cent rather than our anticipated 6 per cent. A huge bonus for any landlord.

This is just one of our many recent successes. For more information about our Buy-To-Let service go to

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Should Glasgow property investors be worried by the new affordability tests

You would have probably seen the news that the Bank of England is proposing further measures to cool the buy-to-let market. 

The BBC reported that the BoE is proposing that Buy-to-let landlords should face new limits on the amount they can borrow and that lenders should be much stricter when deciding whether or not to grant landlords a mortgage. Specifically, the Bank wants lenders to look at the wider financial situation of the borrower rather than just taking the property rental income into account.

Sounds pretty sensible to me, and what you would expect responsible lenders would be doing anyway, or am I missing something?

And it looks like this is designed to cool the over-heated London market where rental returns of under 4% are the norm and where returns are dependent on never-ending high increases in house prices.

This is not the case for those looking to invest in Glasgow where rental returns are around 7% (and higher is achievable) and average prices for flats are £125,000. In Glasgow, investors should largely be unaffected by this I believe and still be able to satisfy the affordability tests of Mr Carney even with mortgages of 75% of the property value.

In any case, before this announcement, the Bank of England was expecting the buy-to-let market to expand by 20% a year over the next few years whereas if these measures are adopted, they believe it will only slow to 17% a year. Not a massive impact.

As always, to discuss anything you have seen in this blog or simply to arrange a convenient time to meet for a chat about the Glasgow property market, please call me on 0141 221 1827 or drop me an email on

And if you are considering investing in a residential or commercial property in Glasgow, at Douglas Dickson we are always happy to give you our unbiased opinion. Likewise, if you want to take the hassle from finding the deals yourself, we offer a property sourcing service – click here to find out more.