Tag Archives: Scottish property

Claims after divorce in Scotland

Bruce de Wert cropped.and websize. with border

I have been asked by a lady whether she will have a claim on her ex-husband’s pension, after his death.

The circumstances were that she separated and there was no separation agreement. They subsequently divorced. There was a house which was jointly owned but her then husband was contributing towards the mortgage but she, subsequently, bought him out of that, after the divorce.

Her ex-husband has died and she wonders whether she would have a claim on the pension.

In Scotland, at least, the answer is a resounding no!

This question reveals 2 important issues about separation and divorce.

The first is that divorce is final. If you want to make a claim, negotiate a separation agreement (the cheapest method) or enter into a separation or divorce action. After the divorce, it is too late. I have had some who were desperate to remarry and I’ve had my work cut out persuading them that disclosing that will put them in a very weak position. Don’t be tempted!

The second is that some things survive a divorce. In this particular case, the pair owned a house together. That ownership is entirely separate from any issues of marriage. An old favourite were endowment policies which were also jointly owned assets. So, be careful that you do not leave any stone unturned when you are organising a separation agreement!

Bruce de Wert

If you have children under 16, I offer a swift and inexpensive divorce at  www.MyScottishDivorce.co.uk

Should I move out?

myscottishdivorceI have been asked this many times and it is a fraught question.

Where a relationship has broken down there is usually a ghastly atmosphere and a tendency, particularly amongst men, to beat a hasty retreat.

Generally, I do not advise it.

Both parties need to get good, robust legal advice and put in place a separation agreement based on that advice before either makes themselves vulnerable by changing the status quo.

For instance, who is paying the mortgage? Someone could become very comfortable living in a house they are not paying for and be reluctant to enter into any agreement that might affect that!

They are many pitfalls so don’t make a move without advice!

Bruce de Wert


I offer a quickie, fixed price and private divorce for those with children under 16 at www.myscottishdivorce.co.uk.

The writing of a blog does not imply a Solicitor/client relationship.







North of Scotland property review of 2013 and prospects for 2014

I’ll start off with a large dollop of good news issued by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

They expect, in 2014, a rise in prices, throughout Scotland, of 7%.

I’m happy to say that I believe that a price rise will come to the North of Scotland. This is real news because this has not been seen for a very long time.

Do not expect 7%, however. Expect a much lower percentage. This is due to the fact that RICS are banking on there being more property desired than available, nationwide. Here, however, we differ since there is plenty of housing stock available and lower demand.

These are, however, happy days and cause for celebration.

So how did we do in 2013?

More good news! We saw the return of buyers in numbers. According to the Registers of Scotland, sales in the Highlands rose by nearly 40%, which was one of the highest in the country. It was a continuation of the theme of 2012 where people had decided that prices were not going up any time soon and so, if they were going to move, they may as well do it straight away. After all, even if they were not to get the price that they had hoped for, neither would they have to pay a high price for the property they were purchasing. Indeed, with demand being so low in historic terms, the prices being paid were generally under the home report valuation. In other words, prices were going down.

Having said that, the good news is that, in the last couple of months properties have been selling at their asking price. A new development and a welcome one!

According to the Registers of Scotland, prices nationally rose 5.6% but, sadly, in the Highlands, prices were reported, overall, to have dropped by 0.8%. Highland figures, are, of course, skewed by Inverness where there is much more investment, both private and public. It always seems to do rather better than the rest of the Highlands and so, in the North, the drop would have been much higher.

As the year went on, the good economic news kept coming. The Westminster government had read the economic signs correctly and the world looked on in astonishment as we raced to the top of the growth tables in the Western world.

There was very little negative news. The European crisis had not gone away but had quietened down. Critics may say that the upturn is fuelled by credit but it is an upturn, nevertheless, and the old truism holds good – “success follows success”.

I was very much heartened by events in 2013. Properties that had been on my books for a long time sold. The English started coming back with money in their pockets to buy retirement properties. Prices steadied. It was, pretty much, all good news. It is true to say that plots did not sell well but I have great hopes, for 2014, on that side, too.

All in all, 2013 was a good year and you can expect 2014 to get even better.
If you would like to comment on this article or would like this column to touch on any particular matter, please comment on my blog at www.MyScottishLawblog.co.uk.

Bruce de Wert has over 25 years of experience and is Principal Solicitor and Estate Agent at Georgesons, Wick and Thurso.  Follow him on Twitter – @BrucedeWert and Facebook – MyScottishLaw


Housing boom predicted – but not consistent rising prices…yet!

Georgesons Estate AgencyConfidence! I mentioned that in my last article and, boy, do we now have it in spades!

 All the pundits are predicting a housing boom. Some doomsayers are even predicting a housing bubble!

 Amazing to think that, only a year ago, there was still a lot of doubt. Not any more…

 I think we can well and truly say that the market is improving rapidly. Sales are up substantially, here in Caithness and Sutherland.

 As for prices, it is interesting to see that, wherever in Scotland you are, the average asking price is significantly higher than the price that is finally accepted.

S1 Homes has worked out that the figure accepted by the average seller was over 8% less than the asking price . The average house sale in Scotland, at £153,102, was £14,500 below the average asking price, they calculate.

Since the advent of Home Reports, the asking price is usually that found in the Home Report and we are finding that eventual selling prices are usually between 5% and 10% less than that.

RICS say that “looking ahead, it seems that prices across the country are going to continue to rise, with a net balance of 29% more Scottish surveyors predicting increases over the next three months and 56% more over the next year.”

I hope this is true but I have spoken to many colleagues throughout the country and I have yet to find one who is experiencing consistently rising prices. Indeed, when you read the commentary of the various RICS Scottish regional pundits, it is nothing like as upbeat, with virtually only Edinburgh reporting closing dates and above Home Report prices.

Examination of the Registers of Scotland price data shows a negligible increase in prices over the last year. About £200 on the average price, they report, of £156,000. This disguises some significant regional differences but the good news is that Highland is up – even if it is only by 0.8%.

Perhaps it is that surveyors are marking up the prices in new Home Reports. I, certainly, hope so!

So I would agree with those who say that there is a boom but there is certainly not a bubble. A bubble only occurs where prices rise substantially. That may be happening in England but I do not see the evidence for it in Scotland. This is, undoubtedly, good news as we do not want to see tearaway inflation ever again.

Meantime, the good news is, undoubtedly, that if you want to sell your home there are many more buyers out there than they used to be.

Bruce de Wert


My Solicitors website, Georgesons

My Estate Agents, Georgesons property



Separation agreements and transfer of title

property separationI have been asked: — “My husband and I are seperating but still living in the same house at the moment. He would like to buy a property close by but needs his share of the equity in our house to achieve this. I will remortage, which is agreed, to do this. We are both on the title deeds of the house and I am getting conflicting information from a few solicitors and he is getting different advice again! At present all we would like to do is transfer the house deeds into my name and he legally accepts an amount for the house to become mine with no claim against it.

I have been told that we need a legal seperation agreement to achieve this and that my husband cannot remain in the house.

Surely this can be achieved in an amicable way. Any advise would be appreciated. Thanks”

The first thing to understand about this is that you own this property together completely distinctly from your marital relationship. As far as the law is concerned you are just two strangers who happen to own a property together.

Accordingly, you can transfer this property without a separation agreement. The confusion surrounding the advice that you are receiving is that, whilst such a transfer is entirely possible, it is not advisable.

Normally, the house represents a substantial part of any couple’s wealth. As a result, it is often to be found that the capital value of the house is not equally divided. For instance, if the husband has a valuable pension and the wife no pension, you may find the wife will have the house transferred to her and the husband keeps the pension.

The solicitors are concerned that the house should be dealt with as part of the separation deal because they fear that you buy him out, he spends the money and then, when the time comes to divvy up the rest of the matrimonial property, he has nothing left and you are disappointed!

If your situation is that if there is nothing else to be divided, then there is no reason to delay. The solicitors are right. The husband will have to leave because since you are still married, as soon as you become the sole owner, your husband requires rights under the Matrimonial Homes legislation. You will not be able to put him out!

There may be a way round that whereby he gives up those rights but you will need very good legal advice on that before you go down that road. Much better that he should leave.

There is further comment at http://www.myscottishlawblog.co.uk/2012/01/08/separation-and-divorce-in-scotland-can-i-be-separated-and-still-live-in-the-same-house/

Bruce de Wert, Solicitor

I offer a hassle-free divorce service to those who have children under the age of 16 and have agreed everything. More information at www.MyScottishDivorce.co.uk

Disclaimer: A blog is not legal advice. You should check your personal circumstances with a solicitor as small details can make a difference!

Housing market confidence!

The Headlines


•           Confidence in the property market is much higher than it has been of late.


•           Sales picked up in December and have kept up momentum.


•           Mortgages are becoming easier and cheaper to obtain.


•           There is a great deal of borrowing activity by first-time buyers.


•           Prices are still reducing. This is expected to continue but the rate is expected to lessen. This is not a serious problem unless you bought at the top of the market.


•           There are more buyers than there were but still nothing like 2007. This explains why some properties have not sold.


•           Repossessions have stabilised.


To sum up, things are much better than they were. It is not all wonderful but a very considerable improvement.


The Detail


Confidence is what drives the housing market and there is presently bags of it!

This explains why homes, in Caithness and Sutherland, are selling much more quickly and in greater numbers than we have seen since 2008.

This is reflected by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland who report that “For the first time since mid-2011, the new buyer enquiries and newly agreed sales series remained positive for the third consecutive month.”

Statistics are, as usual, the basis of all good reporting and, of course, they tend to lag well behind the actuality. Nevertheless it is useful to report on them.

For instance, Iain Malloch, chair of the Council of Mortgage Lenders Scotland, talking about 2012, commented:

“The Scottish housing market showed positive signs of recovery in 2012, broadly following the pattern seen in the rest of the UK. The availability of mortgages at more than 90% loan-to-value has more than doubled in the last two years and lenders expect to offer more high loan-to-value mortgages this year. This, and the fact that the number of first-time buyers is at a post-crunch high, suggests that lenders really are open for business.”

My experience is that the current situation has improved beyond that. I noticed a significant uplift just before Christmas last year and this is reflected in the April Bank of England inflation report which stated: —

“Over 2012, mortgage approvals by all UK-resident mortgage lenders for house purchase were broadly flat, though had picked up in the second half of the year.”

Not that it is all good news. Prices are on the slide in Caithness and Sutherland and that is reflected by RICS Scotland who say that a slight balance of surveyors expect price reductions this year but if you are a seller, unless you boughyout at the top of the market, that will not be of much concern to you, since the house you buy will also be cheaper.

Let us start at the bottom – the first-time buyer. In 2012, the number of first-time buyers in Scotland rose to the largest annual total in four years, according to new data released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders in Scotland. A total of 19,000 first-time buyers became homeowners – a 13% increase compared to 2011.

And I repeat that this is historic data and my experience is that the market since just before Christmas has changed. There is a great deal more cheer and happiness amongst our clients and customers than there has been for some time.

This is not to say that everything that we have put on the market has sold. There are still some properties which have been on the market for a long time. The market is by no means what it was in 2007 but it is a great deal better than it has been for a long, long time.

So why is this?

Low interest rates are a big boost and, as a result of that, the Bank of England April report indicated that that: —

“The total flow of net lending ….was positive in the three months to February.” Net lending is the total lent by lenders less the amount repaid by borrowers. Confidence is high if people are borrowing at a higher rate than they are we paying their mortgages. Since the crunch, people have been cautiously paying off their mortgages. This trend seems to be have been reversed.

The Bank of England’s Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) has undoubtedly had a part in reducing the rate of interest charged by lenders. FLS is a scheme whereby the Bank of England lends money to mortgage suppliers at cheap rates. The fall has not been as much as some expected, however, as the Bank’s inflation report indicated that mortgage rates “have not fallen as much as anticipated” but that “further falls are possible”.

Aaron Strutt of Trinity Financial mortgage brokers was reported in the Sunday Times on 19 May as saying: — “These figures suggest the banks have been failing to pass on the full benefits of the FLS to borrowers”.

Nevertheless, mortgages are cheaper than they have been for a very considerable time and so the uptake, particular by first-time buyers, is higher. Since first-time buyers were absent for a long time, this is a matter of great cheer.

The Government has a New Buy scheme which improves affordability as the government will give a deferred loan of 20% of the price, the lender will give 75% and use the borrower, 5%. This only applies if you are a first-time buyer buying a new property but I am unaware of any builder here, in Caithness, who is taking part in the scheme. Lenders are also not very keen.

One indicator of the affordability of mortgages is the level of repossessions and the Council of Mortgage Lenders report that: —

“Mortgage arrears and repossessions have stabilised at levels lower than many anticipated when the economic downturn started. Low interest rates, continuing employment, lender forbearance and tactical public policy support have combined to ensure that repossession really is a last resort.

Altogether, then, there is good cheer around and, assuming there are no more Euro shocks, it looks like it is full steam ahead for the property market in Caithness and Sutherland.

Bruce G. de Wert, Solicitor


Solicitors and Estate Agents

Wick and Thurso

+44 (0)1955 606060 (option 2)



A good time to buy in Caithness and Sutherland!


Georgesons Estate Agency Wick CaithnessIn Caithness and Sutherland, specifically, there is no question about it. Prices are dropping – and quite steeply. The statistics for the Highland region, as a whole, are a drop of 4.4% but that, of course, includes Inverness which always seems to do rather better than the rest of the Highlands.

There was a logjam over the last 3 to 4 years whilst people waited to see what was happening but now they realise that times are not going to get better quickly, they are biting the bullet and selling.

Of course, whilst you may have to accept a lower price for your own property, there are also plenty of bargains out there for when you go on and buy. For most people, the absolute price is not a major issue although this is not, sadly, true if you bought at the top of the market.

What is important is that the market is starting to move. I have certainly had more sales this year than last. Interestingly, that is contrary to the national picture exhibited by the Registers of Scotland, who indicated that the numbers of houses being sold dropped by 2.1% although, in the last quarter in the Highlands, there was a rise of 10.8% in sales. My experience may be an issue of market share within Caithness and Sutherland.

As regards mortgages, the Building Societies Association reports that lending was up 10% compared to the same month last year and the Council of Mortgage Lenders, who represent Banks indicated that house purchase lending was up 9.1% although there was a considerable decline in the remortgage lending.

Dry statistics? I do not think so! They tell you the truth about what is really going on and it is all pretty positive stuff. I told you the bad news during the bad times and it has been a pleasure to report positive developments during this year.

Who is looking? At the moment, it seems to be virtually all internal to Caithness and Sutherland although there are some bargain hunters from outwith. We have buy to let purchasers but also, happily, we continue, this year, to have the person who has managed to sell and is looking to upgrade! One exciting development was a holiday home buyer. They have been absent for 3 or 4 years and I hope that this is a “green shoot” which will lead to growth in that market which was, previously, an important one.

It is certainly a very good time to be a buyer and, particularly in this area where prices are so low, a first-time buyer.

Bruce de WertBruce de Wert

Solicitor www.Georgesons.co.uk

[email protected]

My property website can be seen at www.Georgesonsproperty.co.uk


What is a ‘refreshed’ Home Report?

Victorian propertyIn today’s market, prices can be volatile and, generally, are moving downwards.

If the valuation report you are looking at is more than a few months old then it might well be worthwhile to have it refreshed. Effectively, this means that the surveyor is sent back the report and asked to update it. The most important feature of that updating is, of course, the price.

Property sales up but prices down in Caithness and Sutherland

RecVictorian propertyent national headlines, to this effect, mirror my own experience, here in the Far North.

HM Revenue and Customs reported that there has been an 11% rise in house sales this year and I would certainly confirm that house sales are definitely up.

There is speculation, with which I tend to agree, that people have lost faith in the possibility of a return to the “good old days” and so have bitten the bullet and moved.

Big rise in number of homes sold in Scotland

property marketThe recent uplift in sales experienced by me and reported in my last blog has now been confirmed in a report on the BBC.

The statistics also tend to confir the feelings expressed in m last blog , which was that sellers had come to the view that the market was not going to get an better and had decided to get on with their move.

I continue to experience good sales-long may it continue.

You can see the houses we have for sale on our Caithness and Sutherland property website.

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