MORE properties were sold in the Capital than anywhere else in Scotland at the end of last year – with experts optimistic growth will continue in 2014.
New Registers of Scotland figures reveal Edinburgh had the most homes snapped up while average house prices in East Lothian rocketed by 15 per cent.
Total sales during the final quarter of 2013 were at their highest level since pre-crunch 2007 with 2951 properties sold in the Capital compared with 2569 in Glasgow.
Most areas in the country also saw a modest growth in house prices.
David Marshall, business analyst with ESPC, said the official statistics all pointed to a growing confidence in the market.
He said: “Over 2013 as a whole we saw sales rising and the rate of growth increased as the year went on. In the last three months of the year, the number of sales we recorded was up 45 per cent annually.
“But the one thing to bear in mind is that we are on about an improvement from a low base which is still 20 per cent below the peak of the market, but things are definitely heading in the right direction.”
The rise has been put down to a surge in sales of one and two-bedroom flats, fuelled by investors and first-time buyers more able to get mortgages than in previous years.
This in turn stimulates growth “further up the chain” leading to more sellers coming on the market across Edinburgh as a whole, he said.
“What we are starting to see is that people who had been put off after the drop in the market are starting to come back.
“The economy as a whole is heading on the road to recovery which is helping the housing market. We are expecting the number of sales to continue to improve as the year progresses.”
East Lothian recorded the highest percentage rise in prices with the average price jumping 14.9 per cent from £182,330 to £209,566 led by sought-after seaside towns such as Dunbar and North Berwick.
Graham White, of East Lothian-based GSB Properties, said the report was “good news” but also urged caution.
He said: “I’m never a huge fan of average house prices because if you sell a couple of really expensive properties, it naturally bumps the figures up.
“There were a couple that were sold around the £400-500,000 mark which will have brought averages up.
“That said, interest levels have been very good and we are starting to see rises in home report valuations in residential areas, in areas like Dunbar.
“Sales this January compared to last year have improved so we are quietly confident things are improving as a whole.”
Across Scotland 25,579 residential properties sold between October to December last year – a rise of more than a quarter on the same period last year with the average house costing £159,670.
Registers of Scotland commercial services director Kenny Crawford said there were price increases across all property types.
He said: “The Scottish property market is definitely showing signs of improvement and renewed optimism, possibly partially fuelled by an influx of first-time buyers thanks to schemes such as Help to Buy.”
Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said it underlined government’s commitment to helping buyers meet home ownership dreams.