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Property price update – why West Lothian is the perfect location for landlords

Thu 12 Dec 2019

As a landlord, you’ll want to keep an eye on local house prices for two reasons – one, if you’re looking to expand your portfolio, you’ll want to know how much it will cost you to invest and how this could affect your rental yields.

And secondly, in regards to capital gains – how much will your home be worth if you decide to sell it, and what return will you receive on your investment?

Below, using our experience as the first dedicated lettings agency in West Lothian, we outline the latest house price situation in the areas we operate in.

Very strong price growth in 2018

According to findings from the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre, West Lothian experienced an average house price rise of 12.2% in the year to November 2018, with the average cost of buying a home rising to £183,358.

This was comfortably above the national average and driven by strong demand and high buyer confidence, even in spite of the ongoing political and economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Meanwhile, separate data found that house prices in West Lothian grew by 7.8% in the 12 months to November 2018, with average house prices rising 6% year-on-year across Scotland.

For those landlords looking to sell up, or sell one or two of the properties in their portfolio, high demand for homes in West Lothian is being boosted by families relocating from the centre of Edinburgh to more affordable commuter towns on the outskirts of the capital.

The demand for rental homes follows a similar pattern – people, looking for more affordable rents and a greater sense of community are swapping the city for quieter town living.

West Lothian has the advantage of offering some stunning countryside, high-performing schools, good local amenities, leisure and entertainment activities, and a slightly more rural lifestyle, while still being close enough to Edinburgh.

In other words, landlords looking to sell will have high demand from buyers, while landlords looking to let will have equally high interest from tenants.

Homes flying off the shelves

It’s always a good indicator of the popularity and desirability of an area if homes sell fast. And in Livingston, West Lothian’s main town, properties currently sell quicker than anywhere else in the UK, according to the latest Rightmove data.     

While the average time to sell a property across Britain as a whole has increased from 72 days a year ago to 77 days now, it’s a different story in Livingston. On average, homes in the town are snapped up in 35 days.

Again, if you’re a landlord selling one of your properties, you shouldn’t be short of demand and you should feel confident in a very quick turnaround time for your sale.

Equally, if you are expanding your portfolio in the West Lothian area, or are a first-time landlord looking for a relatively easy way to enter the market, you should have little trouble in completing a purchase quickly if this data is anything to go by.

As well as selling fast, homes are also selling in Livingston for more than they were a year ago. According to Rightmove’s sold price data, average prices in the West Lothian town were up by 7% on the previous year and 10% up on the average in 2016 (rising from £155,878 to £171,166).

The same data suggests that price growth in West Calder – a once key centre for the oil shale economy and a ten-minute drive from Livingston – has been even more dramatic, up 21% on the previous year and some 32% up on 2009 price levels.

Meanwhile, in Broxburn – a medium-sized town with good transport links to the surrounding areas – sold prices are 18% higher than they were a year ago and 12% up on 2015.

Overall, then, West Lothian – which sits in a handy location roughly halfway between Scotland’s two biggest cities – is home to a number of locations experiencing strong house price growth.

At the same time, evidence suggests that it’s a popular place to rent, with recent research revealing that rents increased by 5.1% year-on-year to reach an average of £699.

In many ways, West Lothian is the perfect location for landlords. Property here is affordable enough to ensure initial investment isn’t too costly or prohibitive, but strong house price growth in recent years makes the prospect of good capital gains very high if a landlord ever decides to sell in the future.

We recently outlined why Scotland remains a buy-to-let hotspot for investors thanks to rising rents across the country, including in West Lothian.

And, if you partner with the right letting agent – one with the experience and local knowledge to help you get the most from your rental properties – your chances of achieving good returns will be high.

For more information about what we can do for you, please contact us on 01506 496 006.

We also offer free and instant online valuations to give you an idea of how much you could be charging in rent each month.

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