Flat-hunters snap up bargains as property prices drop

HOUSE-HUNTERS have taken advantage of the financial troubles of developer Gregor Shore to snap up bargain Waterfront flats.

Prices have been cut by up to a third at the upmarket Platinum Point and Anchor developments in Leith after the Edinburgh firm went into administration.

About a dozen flats have been sold since the start of the year, after sales virtually ground to a halt before Christmas.

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Buyers are thought to have been attracted by the feeling they were grabbing a bargain as well as the reduced prices.

Property experts predict such "fire sales" will be repeated as more housebuilders run into financial trouble.

Gregor Shore became a high-profile victim of the economic downturn when Deloitte were appointed administrators in December.

Many flats on the Waterfront sites are now more than 50,000 cheaper than they were just before Christmas.

Peter Allen, head of development at property firm Savills in Edinburgh, the selling agent appointed by Deloitte, said the rate of sales at the Leith sites were "back to the glory days", more than double the rate most builders might optimistically expect.

Buying from an administrator, he said, was helping convince people they were getting a good price.

He said: "It does give reassurance. Deloitte is a big quality brand and people know that they are dealing with people who are reputable. That is not to say that Gregor Shore were not reputable but it is a good safe pair of hands.

"The main thing we have done is (change] pricing. People are now seeing that prices are more affordable but they are getting a top-end product.

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"Pricing on some units has changed significantly, others less so. The discounts from the previous price list are sometimes around 30 per cent, yet the flats are the same, they have the same levels of bathroom finishes and the sitting rooms and car parks are just the same."

Platinum Point – which features 452 flats – and the 135-apartment Anchor at Granton Marina developments had struggled to sell as the downturn intensified shortly after they were completed two years ago.

There are now around 69 flats remaining unsold at Platinum Point, with a further 30 at Anchor, ranging from one-bed flats at 118,000 to four-bed apartments at more than 400,000.

A number of subsidiaries of Edinburgh-based FM Developments last week joined the administration list.

Will Scarlett, director of Rettie & Co's land and development department, said: "There will be more in the coming months, sadly."

"There have actually been very few administrator appointments (to housebuilders) in Scotland. The conversations we have had with banks suggest that banks have been reluctant to sell distressed assets as they will always be heavily discounted in order to get buyers.

"Instead, they have tried to work with developer clients in order to find solutions. We have been working in that capacity as an adviser to companies."