IT IS no secret that the property sector has seen a turbulent few years.
However, it seems that property businesses in Scotland, particularly in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) category, have started responding to positive signs in the housing market and that there is a notable shift in optimism for growth.
Evidence of a potential upturn is coming from various sources. Our own Bank of Scotland “Property Matters” report revealed that over a quarter (26 per cent) of small to medium sized property businesses in Scotland are confident that the market is recovering and that they will see an uplift in activity.
This contrasts heavily with the flat market conditions reported by firms, in the same survey, six months ago.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Scotland (RICS) is similarly reporting an 11 per cent rise in surveyors stating increased workloads, with 33 per cent of respondents predicting workloads continuing to rise, and 22 per cent more chartered surveyors expecting job opportunities within the industry to rise in the next 12 months – their most positive reading since the first quarter of 2008.
The Bank of Scotland survey also highlighted that investment is high on the agenda, with more than half (57 per cent) of SME property businesses in Scotland increasing their overall investment plans for the next three to six months.
Those businesses looking to capitalise on the positive outlook and requiring financial support can look to access the UK Government’s Funding for Lending scheme, which Bank of Scotland participates in, allowing us to offer discounts of one per cent to all SMEs for the life of their loans.
By virtue of this scheme, we have committed £3.3 billion to our SME customers since it was launched in September 2012.
Confidence in the property sector is growing and is at its highest level since our inaugural Property Matters survey was conducted in 2011.
With an upbeat housing market encouraging confidence to return, SME clients throughout Scotland in the property sector have much to look forward to in the future.
• Craig Pollock is senior property manager at Bank of Scotland