George Douglas on why his digital property business was booming during lockdown
While Covid-19 put house viewings in the leafy suburbs on hold for three months, property boss George Douglas has been busier than ever.
His online auctions business sells homes, many of them ‘doer-uppers’ or in up and coming areas, to savvy bargain hunters.
Douglas’ firm Online Property Auctions Scotland has recently sold flats in Glasgow, a pub and restaurant portfolio in Cambuslang, a former church building in rural Perthshire along with other property in Paisley, Ayr, Airdrie and Kirkcaldy.
Sellers include financial institutions, banks, insolvency practitioners, executory sales, large and small investors as well as private clients who seek a fast, guaranteed sale.
“Traditionally, auctions were usually frequented by the seasoned investor,” says Douglas, chief executive of the firm.
“However, we now see buyers from all walks of life. These include professional local investors who we know on first name terms, plus a range of investors from south of the border and overseas who see the value in the Scottish market.
“The buy-to-let market remains strong with high demand, which also comes from developers looking for renovation and resell projects.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic we have noticed a small increase in the number of residential buyers who are just looking for somewhere to live.”
Douglas believes the success or otherwise of the economy in general will influence the immediate fate of the property business.
He said: “Economic uncertainty is highly likely to have an effect on the property market. These have been a very difficult few months for many people and some will look to cash in on some assets.
“The residential housing market was strong going into lockdown, however redundancies and lack of confidence are certain to have some effect on the levels of stock coming to the market.”
Douglas’ firm ensures prospective buyers are provided with a legal pack prepared by the vendor’s solicitor, and urges them to view the property first and carry out their own due diligence.
And he is also in a good position to share his wisdom to those bargain hunters looking for the new Finnieston, the area of Glasgow which has gone shabby to chic in little more than a decade.
“There are a couple of unfashionable parts of Glasgow where prices have been rising steadily of late,” he says.
“The first is Govanhill, an area with a perceived bad reputation. This has seen a big transformation with Victoria Road now awash with trendy independent shops and cafes.
“We have seen the prices of some flats in the area double in the last couple of years.
“My other choice for an upcoming area would be Govan and Ibrox. We are seeing increasing prices down there and, crucially, there are still some bargains to be had.
“I tend to ignore much of the financial analysis and opinions when assessing a potential growth area. I find when the cafes move in and start selling coffee at £5 a cup, that’s the time to invest because the young professionals will soon follow.”
*This article first appeared in Insider.co.uk on the 12th August 2020