Warning Over Rise In Mortgage Costs

Independence could leave homeowners facing an average rise in mortgage rates of £5,200 a year, an estate agent has claimed.

In a report backing a victory for the pro-Union Better Together campaign, property firm Strutt and Parker said interest rates would rise if an independent Scotland walked away from its share of the UK's national debt.

The claim was dismissed by pro-independence group Business for Scotland, which said the healthy property market would be "even healthier'' after a Yes vote.

The Scottish Government has warned it will not accept its share of the UK's liabilities if Westminster parties veto a currency union after independence.

Uncertainty over currency could deter people from entering the Scottish housing market, Strutt and Parker claims.

Its report says: "There are many unknowns as to the short-term future of the Scottish property markets until the outcome of the referendum is known.

"Uncertainties arise around taxation, currency and credit risk, all of which could drive mortgage costs higher, deterring buyers from entering the market.

"This will have a significant effect on house prices, mostly likely driving them down.''

Andrew Rettie, partner in charge of the business in Scotland, said: "I believe the Scottish house market will gain strength and momentum in the weeks and months following what I anticipate will be a victory for the Better Together campaign which will secure the United Kingdom.

"Confidence will return to buyers, lenders, sellers and valuers when the result is known.''

The report was welcomed by Scottish Conservative housing spokesman Alex Johnstone, who said: "These are stark warnings homeowners will find impossible to ignore.

"No one wants to pay thousands extra on their mortgage every year, yet that is exactly what these experts are saying will be one of the consequences of separation.''

Business for Scotland's Kenny Anderson, managing director of Anderson Construction and Anderson Buchan Property and former chairman of the Chartered Institute of Building in Scotland, dismissed the fears.

He said: "I buy and sell property all the time, I haven't seen any slowdown in the market and I haven't heard of anyone worrying about independence.

"Scotland's property market is healthy and moving along, recovering from blows caused by mismanagement of the economy by the previous and current UK governments. People are trading in Scottish property and we're seeing increasing value as well as healthy interest in the market.

"Independence will accelerate Scotland's economic growth and there will be a greater need for new industry and business premises, company headquarters and housing for an increasing population. Both commercial and domestic properties will benefit.

"That means significant opportunities for the construction and commercial property industries. Businesses that see those opportunities will be the businesses that seize those opportunities. The market is healthy just now and it will be even healthier after independence.''

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