Desperate’ builders turn to renting as house prices fall

Across the country, house builders and agents hit by the credit crunch squeeze on mortgages are shifting their focus to the rental sector, The Scotsman can reveal.

Further evidence of the shift emerged yesterday when lettings agency D J Alexander reported it has received approaches from several smaller-scale residential developers desperate to rent out flats that had been intended for sale.

David Alexander, the chief executive of the agency, said letting out properties was a "lifeline" for some builders. According to Alexander, demand in the lettings market was driving up rents as much as 25 per cent on average.

Gordon Cunningham, head of residential property at Tods Murray, yesterday predicted that letting will be attractive to first-time buyers and short-term purchasers such as students and professionals on assignment.

Cunningham said: "More people are going to be forced to let, such as first-time buyers, and I suppose even the short-term purchase people who plan to be in Edinburgh for a few years.”

THE SCOTSMAN, 16 July 2008