‘Try before you buy’ scheme launched as housing market slump continues

Originally printed in Scotland on Sunday April 17, 2011

‘Try before you buy’ scheme launched as housing market slump continues

A SCHEME that allows prospective homeowners to try out new properties before they buy will be introduced in Scotland this week.

The rent-to-buy initiative is designed to give buyers a chance to test-drive a new property during a slump in the housing market affecting first-time buyers and homeowners trying to sell.

Estate agents DJ Alexander, who are taking part in the scheme, believe it is a good opportunity for people who are serious about buying to gain access to suitable property and decide whether they want to stay. Their first rent-to-buy homes will be advertised this week.
Melinda Illes, from DJ Alexander said: “Some properties are sitting on the market for a year or even longer and the rental market is experiencing a lack of supply because of increased demand, it’s a waste having them empty when they could be rented.

“For people who don’t want to be renting and want to be homeowners it’s an ideal opportunity for them. It’s aimed at those people who cannot pay rent and save for a deposit at the same time.”

Under the scheme, the rent paid during the test drive period would go towards the agreed price of the property. “Initially people are paying the deposit in small chunks really,” said Illes.

Steven Currie of estate agent Murray and Currie said his company has three properties in the scheme targeting first-time buyers and more affluent house-hunters. They include a one-bedroom new build apartment in Edinburgh on the market for £185,000 with a try before you buy price of £675 a month and a six-bedroom town house in Edinburgh’s New Town on the market for £1.3 million, but prospective buyers can try it out for £2,500 a month.

“It’s exciting and it’s another out-of-the-box option for people to look at especially in this current climate,” said Currie. “Gone are the days of sticking a board up and trying to sell your property. You need to come up with new ideas.”

The commitment-free agreement allows the buyer or the property owner to pull out if they decide not to pursue the sale.

The Registers of Scotland annual property survey showed the number of homes being sold fell by 7.9 per cent between 2009 and 2010 while the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reported in March that 31 per cent of Scottish surveyors reported a rise in rents.

In England, the initiative has been in place for two years and currently features more than 4,000 properties.

The company, tryitbuyitproperty.com, first set up with a focus on Spain, acting as a portal to allow sun-seekers to try life in Spain without the risk of investment.

David Riley, managing director of tryitbuyit.com, said the scheme can also benefit people moving to take up a new job who don’t have time to sell their property but cannot afford two mortgages.

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