THE number of homes being sold across the Lothians has jumped by 20 per cent since last year as a rush of plush properties have hit the market to avoid tax rises next year.
Property sales in the three months to November were at their highest level since 2007, according to property agents ESPC.
Upmarket houses in the £300,000 to £400,000 bracket saw the greatest rise in demand climbing 33 per cent annually.
In November alone, the number of £325,000-plus houses coming onto the market jumped by 92 per cent compared to last year.
The supply of properties available has also surged by 13 per cent year-on-year – with one specialist insisting there have never been so many houses on offer.
David Marshall, business development manager with ESPC, said the boost in the number of higher value homes for sale could be a result of next year’s proposed shake-up of stamp duty.
The new land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT), which will replace stamp duty in April, will mean those buying expensive homes could face a larger tax bill.
He said: “Whilst most buyers will pay slightly less tax following the introduction of LBTT in April, those buying higher value homes will incur a higher tax bill. Under the proposed LBTT system anyone buying a home for more than £254,000 would pay more tax from April than is currently the case, meaning buyers at the upper end of the market have an incentive to bring forward their purchase if they can.
“Many sellers are already looking to get their home on the market to take advantage of this expected rise in demand and we’d expect the first three months of 2015 to be a particularly busy period for the property market north of the border.
“Overall, 2014 has seen a substantial improvement in the local property market. Selling times have shortened significantly, with the median selling time down from ten weeks a year ago to seven weeks today, and more sellers are seeing their properties achieve or exceed the Home Report valuation than at any stage since Home Reports were introduced in 2008.”
Kathy Davis, property manager at GSB Properties, insisted 2014 had been a “phenomenal” year for sales.
She said: “We have certainly noticed it picking up. This is the first year we have had so many properties on the market in East Lothian.
“People have got a bit more confidence in the market now.
“First-time buyers have started to move as well. The upper end seems to be a bit more buoyant – we have had some good sales in the half a million price bracket.”