Home buyers using Scottish Independence clause

Some property deals are riding on the referendum.  Picture: Neil Hanna

Some property deals are riding on the referendum. Picture: Neil Hanna

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HOUSE buyers are now making offers on properties conditional on the outcome of the referendum.

As polls show the gap between yes and no narrowing, potential buyers have inserted the clause on some purchases.

Property experts say sales of top end homes have slowed, and properties at the lower end of the market have also been affected as Scotland prepares to make an historic decision on its future.

Sandy Burnett, a partner specialising in residential property sales and purchases at Edinburgh law firm Murray Beith Murray, said cases were becoming more common as September 18 approaches.

He said: “There are often conditions put on offers, but the new one is where it says ‘in the event of a yes vote on 18 September the purchasers can resile from the bargain’, meaning ‘walk away from the contract’.

“I received one offer for a flat conditional on a no vote last week. I have spoken to other agents and it is increasing as we are getting nearer to the referendum.

“At the moment there is a general air of uncertainty, and no market likes uncertainty.

“In Edinburgh, the top end has been most affected - the £1m to £2m New Town properties which are often fuelled by London buyers or Scots coming back from London. They’ve been sitting on their hands for the last few months.”

The capital’s property market tends to be busiest in spring and quieter over July and August, before picking up again after the city’s famous Festival finishes.

Mr Burnett said the market in September and October is usually “quite lively”, but there are signs this month will be less so.

There are conflicting perceptions, however. Some people predict an exodus from Edinburgh in the event of a yes vote; while others insist more people will come in to the city after independence.

Investors have been attracted to the property market in recent years as low interest rates have meant savings in bank accounts have produced low returns.

Mr Burnett said this had slowed down as people “wait and see”.

Other concerns include uncertainty over attitudes to second homes in an independent Scotland. And buyers hoping to secure finance for a property are unsure of what will happen to mortgages and borrowings.

Mr Burnett said: “The market has picked up over the year but the nearer we have got to September the slower it has got. The top end has really slowed down as the money at that end often comes from outwith Scotland.

“People just want to know what’s going to happen. I think it’s a wait and see approach.

“We are in the doldrums at the moment, until a decision comes one way or the other. Whatever way it goes the certainty will help the market. In the meantime people are putting off decisions.”