And while it shows clear evidence that the market is beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity, property prices continue to rise, selling times are decreasing, and people are paying over valuation to secure their homes.
Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, said: “The three months of December-February have shown a continuation of activity across the property market in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders. We’re seeing clear evidence that the market is beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels of activity, but in the meantime, property prices continue to rise, selling times are decreasing and buyers are consistently paying over the Home Report valuations to secure their chosen homes.
“Fewer properties are coming onto the market, which will be impacting buyer behaviour. With many sellers choosing to find a new home before listing their property for sale, there are less homes coming onto the market, heightening competition across the board and giving buyers less options to choose from.
"We would encourage those thinking about selling their home to consider listing their property for sale prior to beginning the search for a new one, lessening the cycle and presenting many more options for buyers in the market, as well as putting themselves in the strongest position to proceed immediately with the conveyancing process.
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“These figures also show some promising signs of activity for first-time buyers in traditionally more affordable areas. High volumes of sales in Leith and faster selling times for one-bedroom flats in some areas of the city are all signs that younger buyers are stepping into the market.
"For those looking to purchase their first home, areas like Abbeyhill, Meadowbank, Polwarth, Tollcross and Sighthill are all great options in the city, while Dunfermline remains one of the most affordable places for buyers to begin their property journey."
Property prices rose in West Lothian, but dipped in other out-of-town locations
The average property selling price in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders rose 2.6% annually to £271,493 during December 2021-February 2022.
Demand was especially prominent for property in West Lothian, where prices saw a significant year-on-year increase of 38.4%, taking the average property selling price from £215,964 to £298,965. Offering excellent commuter links and more affordable property prices, West Lothian appears to be rising in popularity with buyers seeking family homes or additional living space to accommodate a changing work-life balance, within easy reach of the capital.
Property selling prices declined slightly for homes in two of 2021’s property hotspots, the Scottish Borders and West Fife and Kinross - potentially a sign that the trend for properties located further afield from the capital is gradually slowing. In the Borders, the average selling price dropped 1.8% to £223,360, while in West Fife and Kinross, prices decreased 1.7% to £190,006.
Edinburgh properties experienced a 2% price rise during December-February, with an average selling price of £286,617 during this time. Looking closer, there are more dramatic variations between the city’s districts or between different property types, giving more of an insight into the type of buyers currently in the market for new homes.
In the city centre, the average selling price decreased by 3.7% to £331,092. In particular, two-bedroom flats in the New Town and West End experienced a 12.2% reduction to £429,390 on average. By contrast, homes in Edinburgh’s South West experienced a 19.3% rise in average selling price, selling for £401,136 on average.
Two types of property in Edinburgh saw significant increases in average selling price during December-February. Three-bedroom houses in Cramond, Barnton and Cammo experienced an 18.3% rise to £468,182, while one-bedroom flats in Abbeyhill and Meadowbank saw their selling prices grow to an average of £180,629 – 13.6% higher than the same time last year.
The most affordable property to buy in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders could be found in Dunfermline; here, one-bedroom flats sold for an average of £85,983. In Edinburgh, two-bedroom flats in Sighthill had an average selling price of £129,952, offering a strong option for first-time buyers hoping to buy close to the city centre.
Buyers continued to pay over Home Report valuations in all areas, but highest levels paid for coastal locations
A clear sign of strong buyer demand is the amount over Home Report valuation that buyers are willing to pay for their chosen property. During December-February, all areas throughout Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders reported an increase on these figures. Overall, buyers paid 105.6% of Home Report valuation on average, a rise of 2.8 percentage points on the same time last year.
East Lothian remained the location where competition was deemed highest, achieving both the highest level paid over Home Report valuation (109.6%) and the biggest year-on-year increase in the levels paid (5.9 percentage points). This was followed by East Fife, with buyers paying 107.7% on average, up 4.6 percentage points annually. These figures show that there is continuing desire for properties in these sought-after coastal locations, with no sign of decreasing post-pandemic.
In Edinburgh, buyers bid the most for three-bedroom family homes in Cramond, Barnton and Cammo. This type of property achieved 117.4% of Home Report valuation on average; this is 9.6 percentage points higher than December 2020-February 2021, showing how strong the appeal is for family homes in these sought-after suburbs.
Sales volumes continued to decline, as the market returns to pre-pandemic levels
December-February is typically a cooler period for the property market, with many buyers opting to wait until the spring to pursue a new property. The data from this period appears consistent with this theory, as sales volumes declined 20.2% year-on-year, presenting evidence that the property market is now returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity. Indeed, the sales volumes for December 2021-February 2022 are only slightly above those seen in December 2019-February 2020.
Leith continued to dominate when it came to property sales, with two-bedroom and one-bedroom flats selling in the highest volumes. However, it should be noted that levels for both property types were significantly down year-on-year; the number of two-bedroom flats sold in the area was down 21.7%, while for one-beds, this figure was 48.3%.
Fewer new properties came to market across all regions
Overall, it was also a quieter time for sellers with new property insertions down 4.3% on the same time last year. With less properties coming onto the market, this has impacted buyer behaviour, potentially resulting in the increase in the amount of Home Report valuation paid, and the decrease in median selling times.
Dunfermline continued to be a seller hotspot, with the highest volumes of property listed across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders. There were also some big leaps in property listings in the East Lothian town of Dunbar, where insertions were up 69.2% year-on-year. Similarly, Balerno saw a 58.3% rise in the number of new properties listed for sale.
Homes sold faster, with particular demand for commuter areas and city flats
Despite the three months of December-February traditionally being a quieter time, buyers were still moving quickly, perhaps due to the lower levels of available stock. During this quarter, the median time for property to go under offer in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders fell to 18 days, two days faster than the same time last year.
Buyers were particularly competitive in Midlothian, West Fife and Kinross, and West Lothian; homes in these locations sold in a median time of just 13 days, which is six, two and 12 days faster respectively year-on-year. Indeed, three-bedroom houses in Midlothian’s Gorebridge sold the fastest overall, with a median selling time of just seven days (14 days faster year-on-year).
This is perhaps a sign of the strength of appeal these commuter-friendly areas hold, where a family home with extra space, good local amenities and convenient transport links is traditionally more affordable than in the capital.
Property in the Borders was the slowest to sell overall, with a median selling time of 24 days – however, this was two days faster than the same time last year.
In Edinburgh, pace was the name of the game, with many property types seeing hugely accelerated selling times as buyers snapped up homes at speed. The most in-demand location was Edinburgh’s South West, where the median selling time halved year-on-year, dropping from 26 days to just 13.
Flats in the city also underwent rapid sales, in a sign that first-time buyers were coming to the market in good positions to secure their ideal homes. One-bedroom flats in Polwarth, Shandon and Tollcross experienced a 23-day reduction in median selling times, going under offer in 21 days. Meanwhile, two-bedroom flats in Trinity and Newhaven saw their selling time halved, going under offer in a median time of 20 days, down from 40. Some 34.1% of homes went to a closing date during December-February across the regions.
For more from ESPC, or to view properties currently on the market, visit espc.com.