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Scots will learn from others’ mistakes

Last year saw the housing boom continue on a seemingly unstoppable spiral with Nationwide putting the annual price increase at 10.5%.

Analysts are expecting house price inflation to slow this year, with Nationwide predicting inflation of between 5% and 8%. While this is good news for people with properties to sell, it’s not so great for first-timers.

While my home country north of the border remains the most affordable part of the UK, people are struggling even there.

The average first-time buyer is paying more than 100,000 to get on the housing ladder – unprecedented in Scotland. This problem is intensified by people in Scotland traditionally being lower paid than those south of the border.

Hopefully, more lenders will follow the lead of Advantage and launch shared equity products to help people who are most in need.

But it’s pretty difficult for anyone to say with confidence what will happen to the housing market this year as it’s going through a period of profound change.

Home Information Packs will be compulsory in England and Wales from the middle of this year. Obviously these have been watered down now that Home Condition Reports are not compulsory, but they will still have an effect.

The introduction of HIPs is likely to disrupt the housing market as home owners thinking of selling will probably try to get rid of their properties before they have to shell out for HIPs.

And HIPs will mark yet another difference between how houses are bought and sold in Scotland compared with the rest of the UK. Scotland is escaping HIPs but the Scottish Executive is introducing compulsory sellers’ packs including single surveys in 2008. At least the Scots will have time to learn from the mistakes likely to be made in the rest of the UK.

On a different note, green mortgages have long been talked about but their impact has been virtually non-existent. This could change in 2007. The chancellor signified he was taking green issues seriously when he announced in his pre-Budget statement that zero-carbon emission homes will be exempt from Stamp Duty.

So far, lenders have been slow to exploit the marketing opportunities of launching such products.

A survey by financial PR firm Penrose Financial shows that only 19% of mortgage brokers are aware of any lenders offering green mortgages but 58% believe there are good reasons to have such loans available.

Only a handful of lenders are in the market. When a big name like HBOS starts taking the area seriously it will grow.

Environmental issues might seem airy fairy but they can’t be overlooked as more consumers realise the damage they are doing to the world.

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