What makes a great home? Is it cutting-edge architecture? An intelligent use of space? The ability to adapt to the needs of a growing family? Or a location that's convenient?
There may be no single answer, instead a whole range of elements including design, build quality and even the financial options offered by developers to assist prospective buyers may all help to elevate one property above the rest.
Whatever the deciding factors, The Herald Property Awards for Scotland 2012, in Association with YourPlace, are guaranteed to identify them.
Since they were launched in 2007, the awards have become the benchmark for everything that is good about the new build and renovation industry in Scotland.
Now in their sixth year, they are sought-after by developers as a badge of distinction and are recognised by house buyers as an independent endorsement of quality.
No other awards scheme is so rigorous in either its judging criteria or the selection process.
And the judges are drawn from among the most distinguished figures across the industry. Their Chairman once again is Andrew McFarlane; partner in DM Hall Chartered Surveyors and one of the most authoritative voices on the Scottish property market.
He will preside over this year's search for the best of Scotland's new homes; a search that could take him and his fellow judges to every corner of the country as they seek out the finest new-build properties, most sympathetic regeneration schemes and the cream of private and social housing developments.
"What makes these awards unique is that every property submitted is visited by two judges," says Andrew.
This year he expects there will be more properties to visit than usual – a direct result of the increase in construction that is now taking place.
"We are seeing signs of activity since this time last year," he says. "I can think of a number of new developments that have been started in the last 12 months.
"Both the industry and potential purchasers have come to terms with the market. Owners now accept they are not going to get the huge sums their properties would have achieved before the slow-down. But at the same time, they recognise there has never been a better time to buy a new home.
"Developers are working hard to achieve those sales. They have come up with part-exchange options and shared-equity schemes that are helping to get the market moving again."
Julia Arthur, Advertisement Director at the Herald and Times Group, said: "The Herald is delighted to be organising these awards for a sixth year. It is testament to the calibre of our award partners, judges and participants that the awards have become respected as the benchmark for excellence in the industry. We are committed to supporting this important market sector."
The range of categories covered by the awards allows for all kinds of properties to be recognised and each year categories are evaluated and reviewed to ensure they remain in line with current market developments. This year sees the introduction of a new category, Professional Adviser of the Year, which is open to individuals and companies who have made a difference to the industry.
For the first time, the awards are being held in association with YourPlace, one of Scotland's leading property management companies.
Scott Mackay, Marketing Services Manager with YourPlace says: "We are part of GHA and our approach to property management is to go beyond the usual industry standards and to provide a service to our clients that aims to meet more of their needs, such as offering boiler care services and access to new bathrooms and kitchens at affordable rates.
"We are delighted to be associated with The Herald Property Awards for Scotland as the aim of these awards is to recognise companies and individuals which share our belief of offering clients the very best products and services."
Last year Cruden Homes lifted awards in the Best Family Home, Best Apartment and Property Innovation of the Year categories, while the social housing sector also did well, winning some of the most highly-sought after accolades, including Development of the Year, which was won by Blochairn Housing Association.
With more activity in the market, competition for the industry's top awards is expected to be fierce this year.
BOOK A PLACE NOW
The Herald Property Awards for Scotland 2012 will take place on Thursday September 13, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow. Arrival is at 7pm for a Champagne reception. The evening is an important and popular date in the house building industry's calendar and tables are once again expected to be in high demand. Tables of 10 are available for £900 + VAT. Ticket price includes champagne reception, three-course dinner with coffee, ceremony and entertainment. Details can be found at www.heraldscotland.com/propertyawards12 To book, call Victoria Scott on 0141 302 7319 or email Victoria.Scott@heraldandtimes.co.uk
BEST SHOW HOME
For properties under 1800 sq ft. Sponsored by Daw Signs. Judges will look for a design that is appropriate for the property and its potential purchasers and which enhances the home's interior space. Style, colour, fabrics, fixtures and fittings and unusual features are some of the qualities being rewarded.
BEST LUXURY SHOW HOME
For properties more than 1800 sq ft.
This category will reward homes at the top end of the market. The best luxury home will combine quality fixtures and fittings with a tasteful design scheme to create a sumptuous interior that reflects the property's size.
BEST LUXURY HOME
For developers building more than 50 units per year. Sponsored by s1homes.com. This award rewards spacious and stylish properties. Design, quality of finish, landscaping, fixtures and fittings and location will be combined to create a spacious and well-designed home.
BEST LUXURY HOME
For developers building less than 50 units per year. This is open to builders who specialise in creating unique, luxury homes in prestigious locations. Consideration will be given to an innovative design, craftsmanship, quality of materials as well as the property's sustainability.
BEST FAMILY HOME
Sponsored by Space and Time Media.
Affordability, good value and meeting the needs of a family with children are key. Judges will be looking for adaptability, space saving, safety and convenience in a well-located property built with the family in mind.
Sponsored by Ross + Liddell.
For all sizes of apartment. Judges will look for site layout, design, presentation, storage, communal areas, usability and value for money.
INDIVIDUAL NEW BUILD OR BEST RENOVATION PROJECT
An individual new build with outstanding environmental credentials, a conversion to fit a specific need or a sympathetic restoration project using traditional or modern skills – this award will highlight projects which stand out and may address unique needs.
PROPERTY INNOVATION OF THE YEAR
This category will reward innovative developers who are finding new ways of attracting customers, by using financial, technical, contractual or marketing innovations. The innovation should, however, have been launched and be available within the entry period guidelines.
PROFESSIONAL ADVISER OF THE YEAR
This award will recognise an individual or business that supports the home building industry in Scotland. Entrants must be able to demonstrate a record of quality advice and service that has benefits to the market and clients. Examples could be: architects, surveyors, accountants, financial services or designers.
BEST REGENERATION PROJECT
Open to projects of all sizes, as well as public and private sector companies and partnerships. Entries should show innovative use of brown field sites as well as design and consideration for green issues. The project should demonstrate value for money and how the area has been revitalised for those who live and work there.
SOCIAL HOUSING DEVELOPMENT OF THE YEAR
Sponsored by Your Place. This is open to registered social landlords in Scotland. The judges will be looking for evidence of a social housing development that has impacted positively on the lives of residents and contributed towards regeneration. Consideration will be given to the use of sustainable materials and building techniques, as well as the impact on the local environment.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE YEAR
Presented by Scotland's Homes.
Site layout, design, range of house types and amenities are key. Judges will be looking for a development that has been carefully planned to make the most of its location.