Overview of method
2.1 This research comprised four main strands:
- analysis of market performance data
- a postal, self-completion survey among property buyers and sellers
- a face-to-face survey of prospective buyers and sellers, and
- qualitative research comprising in-depth interviews and focus groups among housing industry professionals, stakeholders and buyers and sellers.
2.2 All fieldwork was conducted between 9 July and 9 November 2014.
2.3 All research materials were designed by the research team at Ipsos MORI and Rettie & Co., and agreed with the Research Advisory Group (RAG).
2.4 In advance of all qualitative research, participants were informed of the purpose, length and voluntary nature of the interviews. Permission to audio record the research was requested.
Analysis of market performance data
2.5 We sourced and analysed secondary data from a number of organisations:
- Energy Savings Trust
- Land Registry
- Registers of Scotland
- Scottish Government, and
- Solicitors Property Centres.
2.6 The purpose of the secondary data analysis was to assess what changes had occurred in the housing market, particularly since the Home Report had been introduced, in order to identify the extent to which the Home Report has had an impact on the housing market.
2.7 The analysis also helped understand how the Home Report has worked across different market cycles.
Survey of buyers and sellers
2.8 A postal self-completion survey was conducted among recent buyers and sellers, between the 9 July and 17 September 2014.
2.9 The sample was drawn from the Registers of Scotland General Register which records all home sales and purchases in Scotland. To ensure that respondents would be able to recall their home buying/selling experience, the sample was only selected from those who had bought and/or sold property in the last two years from the date that fieldwork began (see Appendix A for the questionnaire).
2.10 A total sample of 10,000 addresses was selected from the General Register. 173 addresses were duplicates and were removed and a further 617 addresses were incorrect and removed from the sample. This left a valid sample of 9,210.
2.11 Participation in the survey was incentivised through a prize draw for £500.
2.12 The survey achieved a total response rate of 10% (928 responses).
2.13 A topline showing the full results of the survey, including comparisons with the Interim Review, can be found in Appendix B.
Follow-up interviews with buyers and sellers
2.14 Qualitative follow-up in-depth interviews were undertaken with buyers and sellers who had agreed to be re-contacted for further research when they completed the postal survey. The sample was selected to ensure that different situations in the house buying/selling process were reflected.
2.15 Interviews, lasting around 20 to 30 minutes, were conducted by telephone during September 2014. The topic guide can be found in Appendix C.
Survey of prospective buyers and sellers
2.16 Face to face exit surveys were undertaken with prospective buyers and sellers between 4 and 19 October 2014. Prospective buyers and sellers were defined as those who were actively considering buying or selling a property at the time of interview. Exit surveys were undertaken outside Solicitor Property Centres (SPCs) across Scotland, and lasted an average of 6 minutes (see Appendix D for a copy of the questionnaire and Appendix E for a topline of the survey results).
2.17 Where SPCs did not have public premises (e.g. Glasgow) or did not consent to take part (Aberdeen), estate agents were used as an alternative.
2.18 We conducted interviews in the following locations: Aberdeen (at an estate agent), Dundee, Dunfermline (at an estate agent), Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Melrose.
2.19 As some SPCs and estate agents had a lower footfall than expected, a top-up online survey was conducted. This survey was accessible through a link on the Glasgow Scottish Property Centre and Rettie & Co.'s social media sites during the period of the 3 - 9 November 2014. This was done in order to boost the level of response among prospective buyers and sellers.
2.20 A total of 147 surveys were completed between 4 October and 9 November.
Qualitative interviews with housing industry professionals and national stakeholders
2.21 Qualitative in-depth interviews were undertaken with housing industry professionals and national stakeholders. A total of 27 interviews were conducted, 14 with housing industry professionals and 13 with national stakeholders. These took place during August and September 2014 (a full list of national stakeholders who participated in the research can be found in Appendix F).
2.22 Participants were sent a letter in advance of the interview, outlining the purpose and objectives of the research and then recruited by telephone (see Appendix G for a copy of the advance letter used).
2.23 Interviews were conducted by telephone and lasted 20-30 minutes (see Appendix H for a copy of the topic guides).
Focus groups with industry professionals
2.24 Focus groups, lasting around 60 minutes each, were moderated by Rettie & Co. with three separate professional groups; estate agents, solicitors and surveyors, during September and October 2014.
2.25 Recruitment for the focus groups was conducted using the same method as the professional and stakeholder interviews (see Appendix H for a copy of the advance letter used and Appendix I for a copy of the topic guide).
Interpreting the data in this report
2.26 Survey findings represent the views of a sample of the population concerned, and not the entire population, so they are subject to sampling tolerances, meaning that not all differences will be statistically significant.
2.27 Where percentages do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, the exclusion of 'don't know' categories or multiple answers. Throughout the report, an asterisk (*) denotes any value of less than half a per cent and a dash (-) denotes zero. For questions where the number of respondents is less than 30, the number of times a response has been selected (N) rather than the percentage is given.
2.28 Data tables were created from the results of the buyers and sellers survey and the prospective buyers and sellers' survey. Each question in the survey was shown with results broken down by key analysis variables. The tables included significance tests to highlight differences between sub-groups.
2.29 The analysis of both surveys comprised question by question analysis examining both the frequency of response to each survey question and the extent to which responses varied by key demographics such as type of home purchase, age of respondent and property value.
2.30 Unlike survey research, qualitative social research does not aim to produce a quantifiable or generalisable summary of population attitudes, but to identify and explore the different issues and themes relating to the subject being researched. The assumption is that issues and themes affecting participants are a reflection of issues and themes in the wider population concerned, and the way in which these impact on people.
2.31 After completing each interview, detailed notes were taken to capture the key points of the discussion. Once the fieldwork was completed, the team held a meeting to enable a collaborative discussion of the findings and possible recommendations.
2.32 This process culminated in the identification of themes and sub-themes. Interview notes were then systematically analysed for key points within these themes. This method ensured that analysis and reporting of the data was rigorous, balanced and accurate, and that key messages were identified.
Structure of the research report
2.33 The remainder of this report presents the findings of the review. We first consider awareness and understanding of the Home Report, before presenting findings on its operation in practice. The report then examines the performance of the Home Report and assesses the extent to which it has met its stated objectives. The final section provides conclusions and key recommendations.
Email: Ruth Whatling