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