About Alison Gourley

Alison graduated from Edinburgh University School of Law in 1991. She joined Mitchells Roberton in 1996 and became an Associate thereafter. Alison specialises in both commercial and residential conveyancing, advising individuals, large and small businesses, banks, charities and further education institutions on all property transactions. Having 20 years experience in property law Alison has developed excellent relationships with surveyors, independent financial advisers and banks so is ready to act swiftly and effectively to meet her clients’ needs in an ever changing property market. She enjoys getting to know her clients and is committed to giving them an efficient service and is always friendly and approachable. She is also involved with the marketing aspects of the firm and is the solicitor in the office who trains the conveyancing paralegals. Alison is married to a photographer and has one child. In her free moments she likes to keep fit. She is a talented amateur artist and loves nature and the great outdoors.

On-line Estate Agents vs Traditional Estate Agents

Over the past few years there has been an explosion in online estate agents who charge a flat fee rather than commission. Certainly digital technology, smart phones, apps and the Internet have transformed the way people market their property or search for a new home.  Slideshows and videos give great opportunities for showing a property at its best and can be seen by potential purchasers all over the world virtually.

Although it is cheaper to use an online estate agent you will pay an upfront fee regardless of whether the property sells or not. It is also likely that you will require to do the viewings yourself and there will probably be no after sales support.

So despite the rise of online tools and estate agents this has not removed the value of traditional estate agency skills. There are still many estate agents who provide a face to face service that can guide the seller from start to finish receiving a commission in exchange.  Conventional estate agents impart confidence. Many people want to walk into a shop and speak face to face to a real person and hand over their keys to someone they can trust. Neighbourhood knowledge is also important with awareness of local market trends and pricing levels for the area. It is key to get good advice on when it is the best time to put a property on the market and at what price or when to accept an offer and when to hold out for a better one. Also you want the property to be put in front of the right people not lots of the wrong people. You also only pay commission if the property sells.

Legal firms, as estate agents maintain their popularity with both buyers and sellers.

If you are thinking of buying or selling this spring, modern online tools will ease the task but so will good old fashioned aids like local knowledge and contacts. Put together they are a winning combination.

If I can help in the purchase or sale of any property please contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Be Proactive on Voluntary Registration

I have just been examining a big bundle of titles which were all dusty, making me sneeze, and some were barely legible. These titles relate to a property which has not yet been registered in the Land Register of Scotland but are titles recorded in Scotland’s General Register of Sasines , the oldest national land register in the world dating back to 1617. The Register’s name comes from the old French word ‘seizer’ meaning take and is a chronological list of land deeds which contain written descriptions of properties.

In 1981 the Land Register of Scotland was introduced which is a register of who owns land and property in Scotland, is based on the Ordinance Survey map and includes plans of registered properties with each property on the register having a title sheet. The title plan defines the extent of the property on a map.  The title sheet gives details of the current owners, price, mortgage details, and the conditions affecting the property. This title sheet is guaranteed by the Government.

In terms of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012 a cadastral map is now used which is a base map showing the totality of registered real rights in land. The aim is to have all Scottish land on this new digital map –based Land Register by 2024.

However only 30% of Scottish land is currently registered, so to speed up the process, Registers of Scotland has introduced ‘Keeper –Induced Registration’ (KIR). Rather than waiting for trigger events such as sale of land, the Land Register is transferring titles from the old Sasine Register to the Land Register itself.  In certain areas in Angus, Dumbarton, Glasgow and Midlothian and others it may already have happened to your property. There is a post code check at this page of the ROS website :https://www.ros.gov.uk/about-us/land-register-completion/keeper-induced-registration.

Leaving registration to the Registers means landowners have no control over the process and although saving registration dues and not having to fill in any paperwork, errors can occur. There may be issues around unfenced boundaries or rights of access. Also title deeds from the old Sasine Register often overlap. If these are not taken into account at the time of KIR, owners may face great inconvenience to rectify matters or prove their title.

There is therefore a strong argument for voluntary registration with homeowners being in control, avoiding errors, having clear boundaries, making their property more marketable and speeding up the conveyancing process.

If you would like more information on KIR and voluntary registration please contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk  and I will be happy to assist.

House Price Trends in 2018 Expected to be Similar to 2017

Halifax has revealed that prices in the final quarter of 2017 (October-December) were 2.7% higher  than in the same three months of the previous year. In addition house prices in that quarter were 1.3% higher than in the previous quarter (July-September).However despite there being a rise of 0.3% in both October and November 2017 there was a fall in December 2017 of 0.6% which was the first price drop since June 2017.

According to the latest House Price Index from Halifax the average price of a property in the UK at the end of 2017 was £225,021 which is 2.4% higher than in January 2017 when the average price was £219,741.

Halifax says it expects house price trends in 2018 to be similar to last year. Overall, annual house price growth nationally is expected to stay low and in the range of 0.3% by the end of 2018. The main drivers for this apparently are the continuing effects of the squeeze on spending power as inflation has outstripped wage growth and the uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy next year.

“As we’d anticipated, the housing market in 2017 followed a similar pattern to the previous year,” commented Russell Galley Managing Director, Halifax Community Bank. “House price growth slowed  whilst building activity, completed sales and mortgage approvals for house purchase all remained flat. This has been driven by a squeeze on real wage growth and continuing uncertainty over the economy.”

“However nationally house prices in 2018 are likely to be supported by the ongoing shortage of properties for sale, low levels of house building, high employment and a continuation of low interest rates making mortgage servicing affordable in relative terms,” he added. “Overall we expect annual price growth to continue in the range of 0.3% at the end of 2018.”

For expert legal advice on buying or selling in Scotland then please contact Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Value of Privately Owned Housing Stock Reaches New High

New research by Halifax has revealed that the total value of privately owned UK housing stock has surpassed £6 trillion for the first time.

Since 2007 the total value of private residential property in the UK has grown by £1.94 trillion (or 48%) to an estimated £6.02 trillion. The average value per household in the UK now stands at £256,912, up from £187,310 in 2007, representing an increase of close to £70,000 (37%)

This increase has been driven by a 45% rise in the average house price and the stock of privately owned homes expanding by 1.9 million from 21.5 million to 23.4 million.

Net housing wealth peaks as homeowners reach retirement age, with 40% of wealth in households with owners aged over 65. Three in five (61%) of homeowners in this age bracket are mortgage free. Almost a quarter of total household wealth is held by householders in the age group from 55-64. 47% of those aged 25-45 have a mortgage and account for 15.4% of total housing wealth. Just 0.1% net housing wealth is held by those aged 16-24.

I have been a residential conveyancing practitioner for over 24 years and I would be delighted to advise you on buying and selling property. If I can help please contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

New Scottish Private Residential Tenancy in force from 1 December 2017

The Scottish Government has published regulations which confirm that the new form of Scottish residential tenancy, known as the Private Residential Tenancy will be introduced on 1 December 2017. This new form of tenancy was created by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 with the intention of improving security of tenure for tenants and also giving protection for landlords, lenders and investors.

The significant benefits for landlords include:

  • No more pre-tenancy notices such as the AT5.
  • If a tenant is in arrears of rent a landlord can refer a case for repossession more quickly.
  • The Private Residential Tenancy will include standardised terms.
  • When regaining possession of a property only one simple notice called a “notice to leave” will be required.
  • There will be 18 grounds for repossession, which include new grounds where the property has been abandoned or the landlord intends to sell.

The changes will only apply to tenancies created on or after 1 December 2017. Any tenancies existing prior to that will remain short assured tenancies or assured tenancies. The new tenancy will be open-ended and will end when the tenant gives notice of their intention to leave the property or the landlord evicts the tenant on one of the 18 modernised statutory grounds. You will find more information and guidance using these links.



If I can assist in any way please do not hesitate to contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Dementia and the World of the Arts


I recently read a very moving and interesting article in The Observer of 16/7/2017 by Nicci Gerrard called “Say it with a picture or a song”. It resonated with me for certain  reasons, primarily because of the work we do here with adults with incapacity and our involvement with Project Ability Glasgow, an art project creating opportunities for people with disabilities and mental health issues.

As Nicci Gerrard explains “A few weeks ago turning on the radio, I hear a voice saying that creative writing can help wounds heal faster. Startled I turn the volume up. Volunteers were given small wounds; half were then asked to write about something distressing in their life, the other half about something mundane. The wounds of the confessional writers healed substantially more quickly. A thought or a feeling is felt on the skin. Our minds, which have the power over our bodies, are in our bodies and are our bodies: we cannot separate the two. Words, self expression, can tangibly help pain and suffering. Art can be medicine for body and soul”- potent words indeed.

An all party parliamentary group inquiry into the arts, health and well being has been gathering evidence over the last two years and has come to the unambiguous conclusion that the arts used appropriately by health professionals can help with some major social challenges of an aging population, long-term illness, loneliness and mental health ,saving money in the health service. As Lord Howarth of Newport co-chair of the all party group said “The arts have a vital role to play for people with dementia. Research demonstrates that visual arts, music, dance, digital creativity and other cultural activities can help to delay the onset of dementia and diminish its severity. This not only makes a huge difference to many individuals but also leads to cost savings. If the onset of Alzheimer’s disease ( which accounts for 62% of dementias) could be delayed by five years, savings between 2020 and 2035 are estimated at £100bn. Those are powerful statistics, but this isn’t just about money; the arts can play a powerful role in improving the quality of life for people with dementia and for their carers”.

There are projects the length and breadth of the country in theatres, galleries, community centres hospitals and care homes. As Nicci Gerrard describes” I attended one of the monthly sessions at the Royal Academy in London where people who have been art- lovers through their life- and are art-lovers still come to talk about a particular work, led by two practicing artists. We sat in front of an enigmatic painting by John Singer Sargent and there was an air of calmness, patience and above all time and there were no wrong opinions. There are many ways of seeing. People with dementia are continually contradicted and corrected, their versions of reality denied: it’s Sunday not Friday; you’ve already eaten your breakfast; I’m your wife not your mother; anyway you are old and she is dead….In this humanising democratic space, people were encouraged to see, feel, remember and express themselves. Slowly at first they began to talk. There was a sense of language returning and of thoughts feeding off each other. They were listened to with respect and were validated.”

Nicci Gerrard also mentions in her article the film “Alive Inside”. It is a documentary which follows social worker Dan Cohen founder of the non-profit making organisation Music & Memory as he fights against a broken health care system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Nicci Gerrard points to an emotive example “an old man with advanced dementia sits slumped in a wheelchair. He drools; his eyes are half closed and it’s impossible to know if he is asleep or awake. A few times a day, soft food is pushed into his mouth. Then someone puts earphones on his head and suddenly the music that he loved when he was a strong young man is pouring into him. His eyes open and knowledge comes into them. His toothless mouth splits into a beatific grin. And now he is dancing in his chair, swaying. And then this man –who doesn’t speak any longer –is actually singing. The music has reached him, found him, gladdened him and brought him back to life.”  The arts creating a miracle of which there should be more as we realise the wonderful benefits of the artistic world.

To find out more about Project Ability, please visit http://www.project-ability.co.uk/

A Recent Report Gives Insight into Housing Market Activity in Scotland

Registers of Scotland have released a new report which gives an interesting insight into property market trends over the past ten years. It reveals that the total value of the residential sales market in Scotland from 2007-08 to 2016-17 reached over £143.4 billion.

“The Scottish property market is a significant component of the Scottish economy” explained RoS business development and information director Kenny Crawford. “In 2016-17 the total value of residential sales alone was £16.7 billion, an increase of 1.0% compared with 2015-16”

Mr Crawford further states that “We’ve also seen an increase in average house prices over the decade, up 7.7% when comparing 2016-17 with 2007-08.”

“Overall house prices remained relatively stable across each year of the decade, with the exception of a more pronounced year on year increase between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Other report findings include:

  • New-build property sales accounted for 12% of the all Scotland sales in 2016-17 with a total of 12,014 sales
  • There was a 36.2% decrease in the number of residential properties sold for over a million pounds when comparing 2007-08 with2016-17 although this should be seen in the context of a drop of 32.8% in total sales volumes between these years.
  • A drop of 30.3% in the number of sales being registered with a mortgage when comparing 2007-08 with 2016-17
  • A market value of £4.1 billion for non residential sales in 2016-17
  • A 5.3% increase in the volume of commercial leases from 905 in 2015-16 to 953 in 2016-17

Latest data from Halifax shows that there has been a 3% fall in property sales between March and April 2017 to 99,910. This followed three successive months when sales were above 100,000.

According to the Halifax supply continues to be an issue for the housing market. The number of properties coming on to the market fell for the 14th consecutive month in April which kept the average stock levels on estate agent’s books close to a historic low.

If I can help you with buying or selling a property in Scotland then please contact me Alison Gourley by email on ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or by telephoning 0141 552 3422.