For as long as I can remember, oil capital Aberdeen has been the most expensive city in Scotland to rent a home, with rents for all types of property notoriously high.
However, this year the Granite City’s reign has come to an end. Due to the downturn in the oil and gas industry, rents in Aberdeen are falling dramatically. Rents for a one-bedroom property in 2016 are down 14% on the 2015 average, with two-bedroom properties down 16%, (Stats supplied by LettingWeb)
Aberdeen’s crown as the best Scottish city for landlords to invest in has been stolen by thriving Edinburgh. Despite political and economic uncertainty, statistics so far for 2016 show that rents for both one and two-bedroom properties in the capital have risen by 5% compared to the average for 2015, while three-bedroom properties have risen by 9%. (Stats supplied by LettingWeb)
Confidence in Edinburgh’s property market is one of the main reasons Speirs Gumley decided to open an office in the Capital in May this year. Like the rest of our business, our residential lettings service is currently enjoying substantial growth. Over the last 18 months alone, we have increased the number of new properties that we have taken on to manage by 56 percent and we expect this trend to continue, with growth of 20-30% anticipated in the coming year.
We have been seeing a surge in business in our Glasgow office. A block of 20 high-end one and two bedroom apartments on Bath Street in the city centre was successfully let in the fastest time I can ever remember, and our client achieved much higher rents than they had originally anticipated. Gone are the days of rented accommodation being just for students, or those who only want to stay in one place for a short time. As the name suggests, ‘Generation Rent’ is now just as likely to rent a home as buy one, but they are no longer content with shabby décor or dampness – if they can’t buy a home of their own, they want their rented property to be well maintained, attractive or even luxurious.
As demand continues to exceed supply in Edinburgh, I expect rents to remain high for the foreseeable future and make the city a very attractive place for landlords to invest. In recent analysis by property crowdfunding firm Property Partner, Edinburgh came 5th in the UK and first in Scotland for university towns offering best returns for buy-to-let. Investors are looking for and seeing yield returns of 6% and above in the capital.
The good news for tenants is that as landlords try to get the best possible rents for their properties, we’re seeing a trend of them spending more time and money on making their properties as appealing as possible, upgrading and refurbishing to achieve a higher quality product. The forthcoming Private Housing Tenancies (Scotland) Bill due to come into force in late 2017 will introduce rent controls, which will provide more predictable rents and protection for tenants against excessive rent increases. I completely agree that rents should always be increased fairly, and unfortunately there are some unscrupulous landlords out there. We would have no hesitation in telling our landlords if we felt they were charging tenants unfairly.
I only hope that rent controls don’t deter investment in the sector, which would reduce supply of rented properties in hotspots like Edinburgh even further.
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Work is now complete on an iconic B-listed building in Glasgow’s Tradeston area, which was saved from falling into serious disrepair by a group of home and business owners, the building’s factor Speirs Gumley, and grant funding from Glasgow City Council. The building at 33 Dalintober Street/53 Morrison Street was originally designed in 1919 by architect James Ferrigan as a warehouse for the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society, completed in 1933. It sits immediately beside the very prominent Co-operative House, which is adjacent to the Kingston Bridge on the south side of the River Clyde. The building was converted to 60 flats and 4 commercial units in 1999. After a survey discovered that the building would deteriorate rapidly if the almost 100-year-old roof was not completely replaced at a cost of £1.135 million, Speirs Gumley successfully applied for an emergency grant of £576,000 from Glasgow City Council. With this financial assistance in place, Speirs Gumley was then able to gain approval from the homeowners and business owners to pay their share of the remaining costs. Within just 12 weeks, the money had been raised and the vital repairs began in August 2015.
As well as replacing the roof, improvements were also made to the underground carpark and stairwells along with a refurbishment of the façade.
The newly restored building was ready just in time to host Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing, on 21 September as he launched Under One Roof – a major new free website designed to help private flat owners with the complex and important task of carrying out shared repairs. The building was chosen as a venue because it is a working example of best practice and what can be achieved when owners, property managers and local authorities pull together.
Lorraine MacDonald, owner of Speirs Gumley said: “In my entire property management career I’ve never seen anything like the dedication and determination of the Owner Focus Group to raise the money needed to save their beautiful building from deterioration. My team at Speirs Gumley have also gone well above and beyond the call of duty to make this happen, and the chartered building surveyors, Wiseman Associates Limited and contractors GDN Contracts have also done a wonderful job.”
Councillor George Redmond, Executive Member for Jobs and Investment at Glasgow City Council, said: “It’s great to see the restoration of this splendid building, another symbol of the regeneration of Tradeston, and an enterprise that all involved should be proud of. I am delighted that the council supported this project, which saved an important part of Glasgow’s built heritage for future generations.”
Iain Thomson, a key member of the building’s Owner Focus Group said: “I’m over the moon that the works to our historic building are complete and also with how fantastic the building looks. Everyone involved has done a tremendous job and it’s lovely to know that the future of the building has been secured for many years to come, because at the end of the day it’s not just our home, it’s a very important part of Glasgow’s architectural history.”
Greig Douglas of chartered building surveyors Wiseman Associates Limited said: “This has been a very rewarding project for us to work on, especially with this being such an iconic building in a very prominent location. It’s great to see the scaffolding down and the building looking glorious again.”
David Kerr of GDN Contracts said: “This was one of the biggest and most exciting restorations that we have ever worked on and I am very proud that we completed the repairs on budget on a project of this magnitude.”
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Our team and staff from the Hospice got together with the genius production talents of Stu and Al to make our own version of Justin Timberlake’s summer Smash hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling” to help raise funds for the Hospice Brick by Brick appeal.
Launched on July 27, the film features staff from our Glasgow office as well as the hospice getting into the groove at well-known city landmarks, from the Hydro and Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum to Hampden, the Science Centre and Kelvingrove Bandstand. There is also a special guest appearance from tennis coach Judy Murray.
Our hope is that the video will raise £10,000 for the hospice’s Brick by Brick Appeal to build a new home at Bellahouston Park. The film was made to be shared on social media and drive donations to the Hospice’s JustGiving page – www.justgiving.com/cantstopthefeeling. Donations of £5 can also be made simply by texting DANCE to 70660.
The hospice’s Brick by Brick Appeal is raising the £21m needed to build a new, purpose-built facility in the city’s Bellahouston Park. The foundations go down this summer and patients are expected to move there in 2018. The aim is to bring 21st-century hospice care to the people of Glasgow, a major step forward in the provision of palliative care services, providing the flexibility to develop and improve services and lower the age limit of patients to 15 years and over.
The video was the brainchild of Lorraine MacDonald, owner of Speirs Gumley, who was soon inundated with volunteers who loved the idea and wanted to be involved. Speirs Gumley is part of the hospice’s 50-10 Club: 50 companies who have agreed to raise at least £10,000 each for the new hospice. Speirs Gumley has already raised £4000 and decided to take an innovative and fun approach to raising the remaining £6000.
Lorraine said: “We have been long-term supporters of The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice and our team wanted to do something a little bit different to raise much-needed funds for the appeal. Thanks to a comedy night, we are nearly half-way to our target but wanted to do something a bit different to raise the remainder, and hopefully more.
“The team and I have had so much fun making this video. I hope it makes people smile, laugh and, most importantly, put their hands in their pockets for this fantastic charity that has touched the lives of so many people in Glasgow.”
Judy Murray got involved in the video thanks to Speirs Gumley’s ongoing support of her Tennis on the Road programme, designed to make tennis accessible to children of all backgrounds and encourage take-up of the sport.
Judy said: “What a fun and novel way to raise money for a such a deserving cause. Speirs Gumley has also supported my Tennis on the Road programme, which builds workforces in local communities across Scotland so that kids, teens and adults from all backgrounds can get involved in tennis. It’s great to see their innovative and light-hearted style applied to fund raising for the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice.”
Gillian Sherwood, the hospice’s director of clinical services, said the idea of the video was a work of fundraising genius.
“What a fantastic idea, we are thrilled and extremely grateful to Speirs Gumley for their support. The hospice staff who took part had a brilliant time.
“Money raised from the video will have a lasting effect on the new hospice, helping to pay for the atrium area. It will be at the heart of the hospice and will offer a warm welcome and a sense of home. It has been designed to be a comfortable yet practical environment with seating and a fireplace where patients and families can relax and spend time together.
“We hope the video will spread like wildfire, capture people’s imaginations and encourage them to dig deep.”
Speirs Gumley Residential Letting was awarded as Best in Scotland Silver Winner at the Letting Agency of the Year Award 2016 in association with The Sunday Times and The Times and sponsored by ZPG.
The Main Event
On Friday 10 June, hundreds of leading Letting Agents from across the UK attended a glittering ceremony at The Lancaster London Hotel, where the winners of the most highly regarded awards in the Lettings industry were revealed. The winners were presented with their awards by rugby and Olympic leadership legend, Sir Clive Woodward, with renowned journalist, author and newsreader, Penny Smith, acting as compere.
Award winners were decided following a rigorous and thorough judging process by a panel of 20 industry experts who assessed initial entry submissions before conducting an extensive review of the entrants, including over 150 hours of telephone interviews and independent mystery shopping exercises. The judging process was overseen by Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, and Mark Hayward of the NAEA acted as Arbitrator.
What the Judges Said…
“Anyone using this agency will be able to access a comprehensive service with a strong emphasis on personal and high-level service. The tenant-focused marketing is exemplary – well thought-out, attractive and informative, and word of mouth referrals are as strong for tenants as landlords. Technology is used solely for the benefit of the business and not merely for it’s own sake. The directors have spent a lot of time identifying where, how and why it would be best used and have implemented accordingly. KPIs and other measurements have been carefully considered and communicated to the team to guarantee their buy-in, and there are regular spot checks and mystery shops by directors to make sure standards are being met. Repair monitoring and property management is very good, especially in terms of response times and maintenance resolution. The team also offers investors advice on future proofing properties to maximise their potential profitability.”
Building on success
Our Head of Residential Letting, Robert Nixon and Managing Director, Iain Friel, represented the company at the recent Award ceremony and were delighted to receive the Award on behalf of our team. Robert Nixon, Head of Residential Letting, commented “To receive the Silver Award is a massive achievement for the business and our Residential Letting department, which clearly recognises the huge efforts our team put in on a daily basis ensuring that both Tenants and Landlords receive the best possible customer experience. Our focus for the next 12 months will be building on our recent achievement, ensuring that the emphasis is still on the personal and high level of service that we have been recognised for and continuing to identify areas where technology can be used to enhance our business, ensuring that the process of renting a property from Speirs Gumley Residential Letting is effortless.”
We are delighted to announce that we are expanding our operations by opening an office in Edinburgh at the end of May. We are one of the country’s largest property management companies with over 180 years of experience in this sector and currently manage nearly 27,000 commercial and residential units in over 750 developments across Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, including developments such as Tanalach, South Oswald Road, Kingston House Edinburgh.
Speirs Gumley has built up a strong reputation for successfully managing historic and iconic buildings including The Beresford on Sauchiehall St, the listed Wellpark Enterprise Centre, owned by the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, The Merchant Building commercial Offices in George Square and many more. With the surge of demand for its services in residential and commercial property management as well as residential letting services Speirs Gumley has delivered strong growth – increasing in profit by over 30 percent in the last two years alone has allowed us to reinvest this profit in I.T. and to increase the staffing levels from 64 to 70 and counting. Now we are establishing our presence in the capital with a new office in Davidsons Mains, which will formally open at the end of May and create five new jobs in the first year alone. Lorraine MacDonald, Senior Partner said:
“We’re delighted to be in a position to open an office in Edinburgh and are really excited about the potential in Edinburgh for all of our services. Our Glasgow office is busier than ever, and with confidence returning to the property sector, we really believe that this is the right time for the company to expand.
“We already have 1,400 properties on our books across the capital, and we expect this to grow to 2,000 within a year. Having a physical presence in Edinburgh will allow us to build significantly on our offering in the east.”
As well as the new staff at the Edinburgh office, Lorraine MacDonald and members of her senior management team will also be based in both the Glasgow and Edinburgh offices.
The new office will also be home to a training hub for all Speirs Gumley staff which will deliver induction programmes for new employees and company-wide training and development. In the short space of time that the office has been opened to the staff, this has been an overwhelming success.
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As part of our ongoing commitment to delivering the best property management service available we are delighted to announce the launch of our Client Gateway.
We have always been innovators in our industry from being the first company to launch a bespoke property management I.T system almost 20 years ago to the introduction of a unique mobile app in 2014. Ensuring that we deliver outstanding customer service is at the core of everything we do; we recognise that our clients’ need to be able to have access to their account at times which suit them and have now launched our Client Gateway to allow you access to your account at your convenience.
Initially, the Gateway will allow you to view a statement of your account, download invoices and pay your account online, all from your laptop, tablet or mobile device.
Further development of the Gateway will provide access to important documents such as Deeds, Factoring Plans and key insurance information, as well as news blogs from your Property Inspector helping keep you up to date.
The launch of our Client Gateway is another important step for us as we continue to push the boundaries of property management.
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We will be delivering an innovative career event on 22 March which will give hundreds of pupils from Rosshall Academy in Crookston a taste of a trades careers in the property industry. This event aims to help more young people find a job by sharing insights on employment opportunities in the property sector.
We organised the Trades Day, after signing up to the Glasgow Schools & Business Partnership programme, which was established by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow City Council.
The initiative encourages employers to partner up with a secondary school, actively participate in developing young people at the school, and help teachers to better understand the needs of different occupations and industry sectors. The aim is to increase employability by improving school leavers’ readiness for the world of work.
On Trades Day, we will bring together around 20 tradespeople from across the industry, including electricians, plumbers, builders, gas and lift engineers. They will visit the school and meet with pupils, offering valuable insight into their particular trade and answering a range of questions about how to get into the industry. Lorraine MacDonald, Senior Partner of Speirs Gumley said: “Speirs Gumley is passionate about making a difference to the local community and giving something back. As a property management and lettings company, we work with various trades on a daily basis and we have encouraged these businesses to take part in this important event. The participation of Speirs Gumley and our business associates will help to showcase these important and rewarding career options to pupils. The pupils attending will also gain crucial information on what the next steps would be if they are interested in a trades career. We’re excited about the potential of this important partnership programme.”
Stephen Murphy, Assistant Head Teacher at Rosshall Academy said: “We are looking forward to the Speirs Gumley Trades Day being a great success and anticipate over 300 interested pupils coming along. Some of our pupils aren’t looking to go on to further education, but may not always be aware of the alternatives available to them, so to be able to meet people who have learned such a wide range of trades and have a chat with them about what their jobs are like was an excellent opportunity. I am very grateful to Speirs Gumley for their partnership with Rosshall Academy and continuing support in what is an extremely worthwhile initiative.”
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We have been working closely with Tennis Scotland and Tennis on the road in their efforts to grow the game in this country. Over the course of the weekend of 12th & 13th March we were delighted to sponsor a doubles workshop held at the Gleneagles Hotel with world-renowned coach Louis Cayer.
Louis, who is coach to Grand Slam Champion Jamie Murray, was assisted on the day by Judy Murray and Kris Soutar. The event was attended by coaches and players from throughout Scotland who all benefitted from the expert coaching from Louis and his team. The atmosphere from the participants was second to none and we look forward to being involved in further workshops in the future.
We are delighted to announce that Tom McKie joins the Board of Directors at Speirs Gumley Property Management with immediate effect, as Director of Inspection Department. Tom joined the company in 2008, following a career spanning 13 years at London Scottish Bank where he was appointed as one of their youngest ever Branch Managers. Since his promotion to Inspection Team Leader in 2011, Tom has worked tirelessly in our residential management team, helping us develop and deliver client services. He has been influential in managing a number of high profile developments and recently has been heavily involved in a number of major repair and insurance reinstatement projects, working in partnership with local authorities, surveyors, architects and engineers. On receiving the news Tom said “I am delighted to receive my recent appointment to Department Director, and I very much look forward to being part of a management team who continually strives to find innovative ways to improve our service delivery and client experience, and ensure we remain at the forefront in everything we do”. Tom will complement our management team and we have every confidence that he will help us continue to offer unrivalled property management services throughout Scotland.
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