PROPERTY sales in the Lothians have reached the highest level for four years.
Experts said the recent figures suggested a significant recovery in the housing market and gave some hope to first-time buyers.
The volume of sales in the region has increased by 12 per cent on last year and is 40 per cent up on 2009.
Estate agents say they have been inundated with queries and sales since January in the strongest first quarter period since 2008.
The rise has been driven by sellers who are increasingly willing to accept lower offers for their property in the knowledge they are likely to pick up the same deal when they themselves buy.
This has led to a rise in completed sales, with around 1400 homes sold between January and March – up from 1000 four years ago.
The trend means that house prices are falling gradually but that there will be fluidity in the market.
David Marshall, business analyst at the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, said: “Sellers are accepting slightly less for their own property, but making that up when they come to buy. The result is we’re seeing a great deal more completed sales.”
Mr Marshall said it would be some time before sales return to the levels of 2006 but that they were recovering.
He added: “We had a recent event for first-time buyers with twice as many people as at previous events.”
First-time buyers with a deposit are likely to see the benefits of lower prices across the market.
The average price of a one-bedroom flat in Easter Road and Leith Walk fell 9.7 per cent annually to £103,000 while in Gorgie and Dalry the value of similar properties was down nine per cent to £95,033.
The average house price in Edinburgh fell to £195,221 in the first quarter of 2012 – the first time it has dipped below £200,000 for a three-month period since April 2009.
Leslie Deans, of Leslie Deans & Co estate agents, added: “We’re certainly seeing much more activity in terms of sales than even two or three months ago.
“We’re still finding difficulties at the lower end of the of market, and I don’t think prices will rise for the rest of the year.”