David Alexander gives a Sunday Times reader advice on timing

Q. I am keen to buy an investment property in central Scotland and can’t help but think that the current market conditions make this a lot easier today, than it might have been a year ago. However, I wonder whether I should hang on a bit longer. All the predictions seem to be that the market will get a lot slower yet.
GD West Lothian

A. As property is a long-term investment, and if you have the funds available to make a purchase, it does not really make sense to delay making a purchase. I have dormant clients who have been “putting off” buying property for years – and who now bitterly regret their dithering!

There are two types of market – the “overall” national market and a myriad of local markets. As regards the latter, it is true that even in sought-after locations like the West Ends of either Glasgow or Edinburgh, demand has fallen back a bit in recent months. But while no one has a crystal ball, I really cannot see prices of prime rental properties – i.e. the ones that are in the best locations and provide the best overall return for letting investors over time – falling back sufficiently enough to make delaying a purchase worthwhile.

If your purchase is being made, at least in part, with borrowed money, then delaying makes even less sense. The banks and building societies have introduced much stricter lending criteria since last autumn and a year from now obtaining funding for a buy to let property may be even more difficult than it is now.

David Alexander is proprietor of the Edinburgh- and Glasgow-based letting and estate agency, D J Alexander.

_THE SUNDAY TIMES, 30 March 2008_