Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

< Back to '27th July 2022' briefing

July 26, 2022

Highland Council’s buy out

The shortage of affordable housing for local people in rural areas in particular, is largely understood to be caused by incoming wealth, inflating market values by buying up properties as a holiday home investment proposition. To date, we’ve seen much wringing of hands on the part of our politicians with little or no direct action. Until now. Highland Council is offering to buy homes that would otherwise be sold to investors as holiday lets.  With the incentives on offer, many sellers are coming forward, happy to know their homes are being kept for locals. Could other Councils will follow suit?

Scottish Housing News

The Highland Council has launched a new scheme which will buy up properties in the area to prevent second-home owners letting out their homes on Airbnb.

The pilot scheme encourages property owners to sell directly to the local authority in a bid to ease housing pressures in the highlands, as soaring house prices and a rise in short-term lets freezes local people out of the market.

While the maximum purchase price is usually capped at £180,000, a higher figure is considered in some cases and the council has waived the requirement in Scotland for sellers to pay for a home report.

Sellers also do not have to pay estate agent fees, with their homes valued instead by the council or an outside professional.

Allan Maguire, head of development and regeneration at Highland Council, said the scheme was started after the local authority was approached by several homeowners who had inherited a property from their parents and wanted to keep it in the community.

While sellers may be able to get a better price selling their homes on the open market, Mr Maguire added that the council had adopted a “hearts and minds approach” and sellers would still get market value.

The initative has attracted interest from 130 sellers across the Highlands since the start of this year, with 40 properties already purchased by the council, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Mr Maguire said: “People will sometimes say to us that their parents lived in the area all their lives and that they don’t want to sell it on the open market and then it be used for an Airbnb.

“Rather than you selling the property and it then be used as a holiday home, we will pay market value for it but we will also not require a home report or for you to pay estate agents fees.”

He added that the council hoped to “buy up more properties as word gets out” as it was an “extremely challenging” time for the delivery of more affordable housing. He said inflationary construction costs and a shortage of contractors in the Highlands to tender for housing projects were exacerbating the situation.