Increase in build of rural homes predicted as lockdown changes attitudes

A London-based accountancy firm has said that Scottish landowners could benefit from a potential rise in demand for homes in rural areas, thanks to a change in attitude during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Saffery Champness said estates within a couple of hours from the central belt are ‘well placed’ for the potential increase in demand for homes in rural locations with access to outdoor spaces. The firm added that people will be more willing to make commutes into cities, and that the normalisation of working from home has meant that people may not be so averse to living in rural areas.

Sean McGinness of Saffery Champness said, “With the Scottish Government extending the Help to Buy Scheme into 2022, there are definite incentives to continue building new homes. Furthermore, the expectation is that the UK Government’s ‘fiscal event’ this month will have some measures aimed at increased housing and infrastructure development.

“The aim of this will be to boost confidence in the housebuilding and development sectors, and it is hoped that where the Scottish Government has responsibility for policy it will follow UK policies that encourage housing and infrastructure development. This could lead to developers looking to add to their land banks for future projects in three to five years’ time. Indeed, it is understood that some housebuilders have already raised additional capital to ensure they are in a position to secure the correct site at the correct value.

“The upcoming fiscal event will make for interesting viewing to see if there is any further hint at an alignment of capital gains tax with income taxes, which could increase the tax on a land sale from 20% to 46%. This was already being suggested prior to the Covid-19 crisis and could be more likely given the level of unplanned debt taken on over the last few months. Rural businesses have found it tough in the last few months and the government re-opening the construction sector, coupled with the anticipated July opening of the tourism and hospitality sectors, with an expected surge in demand for staycations, may provide a welcome boost to the sector.”