Housing realities

While Andrew Gordon makes some interesting points on housing (Letters 2 January), much of what he suggests either already exists or is impractical.

On transparency, the information on ownership, purchase date, price and any mortgages, loans or other burdens is in the public domain.

Registers of Scotland has the Land Register and the Register of Sasines (dating from 1617) both publicly available at Register House and on the internet. In addition there are a number of specialist companies that can provide searches of these and other registers.

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On forced sales the problem is that it establishes merry-go-rounds where company A establishes company B, which purchases the land when a forced sale is required and retains the land until it is forced to sell to company C (which belongs to the brother-in-law of company A) and eventually resells back to company A.

In addition, such a law would no doubt end with a number of court cases which would keep the lawyers who are short of property-selling revenue in business fighting these cases.

As for compulsory purchase, a government which doesn’t have the money to upgrade the A8 cart track between its two principal cities is hardly going to be enthusiastic about buying land which it cannot afford to develop.

As for central planning, while it might seem a good idea, most economies (USSR and North Korea are examples) tend to end up with shortages.

We already have land designation at local level with appeal to the national government.

The reality is that the housing market is cyclical, and combined with a recession means that at the moment many are retrenching. It is important to have different types of housing from owned through all sorts of part ownership to rental.

The value of any asset is quite simply what someone is prepared to pay when it is for sale.

When governments interfere in these transactions through legislation or taxation the effect is usually to distort the market.

It has never been easy for each new generation to get into the housing market; many of the older generation had different spending priorities with regards to holidays, cars and entertainment in order to get a deposit and to ensure the lender they could maintain the payments.

Bruce D Skivington

Strath

Gairloch, Wester Ross