Page last updated at 23:33 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 00:33 UK

'As if world has come to a halt'

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

A man reflected in the window of an estate agents
Problems in the housing market are being felt across Scotland

In the beginning Ian Broadfoot thought his problems selling the family home in Inverness were a hangover of the winter.

But having remained unsold since March, it appears the property, like thousands of others across Scotland, is frozen in the glacier-like housing market.

Mr Broadfoot, 60, who is now trying to rent out the house, said: "It just seems to be that everything has stopped.

"It is almost as if the world has come to a halt."

Mr Broadfoot and his family are not alone.

Earlier this month, the Highland Solicitors Property Centre (HSPC) reported what is believed to be a record number of more than 1,000 properties in the region available for sale.

HSPC statistics showed sales in August decreased by 55%.

The previous month, the fall was 26%.

The UK Government has raised the level stamp duty starts from 125,000 to 175,000 in a bid to help home buyers
The number of mortgage products available to new borrowers hit its lowest figure since the start of the credit crunch, according to financial information service Moneyfacts
The single survey due to be introduced in December was originally been proposed by the previous Scottish Executive.

Meanwhile, the average price for properties across the Highlands and Islands has fallen by 6%.

Mr Broadfoot said: "We put our house in Inverness up for sale in March this year.

"We had bought a house in Perth a couple of weeks before that.

"The market had been going fine and there was a lot of competition for the house in Perth.

"When we put the Inverness house on the market everything seemed quiet, but nobody was suggesting there were any real problems and just thought it was because it was the end of the winter."

The interest did pick up at various stages, but the eagerness of prospective buyers was not followed up with concrete offers.

Mr Broadfoot said: "There were people looking at it and people were very enthusiastic, but there were some that hadn't sold their own homes."

His impression that house prices have not fallen through the floor and that properties are sitting on the market underline the feeling of a market in deep freeze.

'Complete nonsense'

Mr Broadfoot: "There is still demand from people for houses, that is not going to change.

"As soon as people can start lending again - it is never going to runaway like it did before - but when that happens the market will get going."

While optimistic matters will improve, he said now was the wrong time for the Scottish Government to introduce single surveys.

From December all houses for sale will have to be marketed with a home report, which includes a single survey, an energy report and a questionnaire.

Mr Broadfoot said: "The single survey is a complete nonsense. It is another burden put on the seller at a time of having so many other difficulties.

"It only affects those putting houses on the market after 1 December, but what if you want to take your property off the market now and back on later?

"At the very least it should be postponed."

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