SCOTLAND’S housing market is bracing itself for a bounce-back boom – having received a boost in interest since property restrictions in England were lifted. 

Nicola Sturgeon will today set out “clarity” over which elements of the Scottish Government’s routemap for exiting the lockdown can be put into action with the first of the four-step strategy expected to kick in tomorrow. 

The routemap document stresses that the Scottish Government is "preparing for the safe reopening of the housing market" in phase one. 

The strategy adds that in phase two, the “relaxation of restrictions on housing moves” will take place – but this will not happen until after the Scottish Government’s review of the routemap on 18 June at the earliest. 

Some restrictions to the housing market were relaxed south of the Border two weeks ago – but estate agents in Scotland have already been fielding interest from buyers and sellers in anticipation of the industry re-starting. 

ESPC has indicated that while inquiries for viewings, valuation requests and home reports remain lower than usual levels for this time of year, there have been steady increases for the past few weeks – and a more stark rise since the English market began to re-start. 

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A spokesperson for ESPC added: “Many of our agents have also reported an increase in enquiries from property buyers and sellers in the last couple of weeks. 

“In a recent survey of 30 of our members, 23 stated that they had seen an increase in enquiries since news of the English market restrictions being eased. The remaining seven agents said activity and enquiries remained about the same as before.” 

Mary McQueen, partner at McDougal McQueen, an estate agent in Edinburgh and the Lothians, has seen an increase in interest from the public. 

She said: “There’s definitely been an increase in new buyer enquiries, and viewers who previously enquired getting in touch again as they think in person viewings have resumed in Scotland as well. 

“There have also been more enquiries asking for definite and dates when viewings will start. 

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“The majority of people do appreciate the need for restrictions but are very keen for them to be eased so we can get back to some sort of normality.” 

Cochran Dickie Estate Agency has noted an increase in enquiries in the west of Scotland since news of some English property market activities resuming. 

Director Curtis Chisholm said: “We have a number of enquiries coming in from people looking to view current stock. We have one house in Castlehead in Paisley, which went live just before lockdown, that has 58 viewers lined up. 

“People are also looking for a valuation of their own home. Many weeks spent at home may have highlighted the difficulties of current properties for some people, who are now looking to move on.” 

As the shutdown continues, concerns have been raised over sellers whose home reports have been due to expire during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said “it is vital” that home reports provide accurate information. 

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He added: “If a property was placed on the market before the lockdown period and has not been withdrawn from the market for a period exceeding four weeks, the home report will remain valid until the property is sold. 

“The Scottish Government is actively considering how it can best support the housing market when current movement restrictions are relaxed, and whether any additional measures are required to facilitate transactions, in liaison with industry and other stakeholders.” 

The construction industry, which is still on pause by the Scottish Government, will also be key in re-starting the housing market. 

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At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Conservative MSP Graham Simpson, asked Nicola Sturgeon when house-building will be re-started. 

He said: “At the moment, we have 6,000 homes in Scotland that are nearly completed. The construction sector is waiting to start rebuilding those homes, but it does not yet know when it can do so. 

“I have been contacted by customers, who are the important people, across the country, who are waiting to get into their homes, including one man, who was written to by the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning and advised to contact the housing charity, Shelter. 

“All that people want to know is when builders can start working again. What is the answer to that question?” 

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Ms Sturgeon stressed that “the priority is to keep people as safe as possible” from the coronavirus outbreak. 

She added: “If and when we move into it, phase one will allow the construction sector to implement the first two stages of its own restart programme, which is a programme that has been developed through collaboration between government and the industry. 

“We will give as much clarity about all that as we can, step by step, but we will not—we must not—take our eye off the priority of keeping the virus suppressed and not allowing it to get out of control again.” 

Analysis by Rightmove in the first week that the housing market in England re-opened found that demand for rental property was up by 33 per cent compared to the previous year – with Monday 18 May seeing the highest level of rental demand ever recorded in one day on the website.  

For those looking to buy a property, Rightmove had almost 11,000 new sales listings on the market in the first week of the sector re-opening in England - 65% down on the same week last year but improving from a 90% fall during lockdown.  

Miles Shipside from Rightmove said the early signs were "certainly encouraging" but warned that "agents are still showing caution and quite rightly putting safety first" and added that many had "already started to prepare during lockdown" so were ready for the restart.