House prices edge upward as sales reach 4-year high

House-hunting in Edinburgh
House-hunting in Edinburgh
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HOUSE prices in the Capital have seen a small rise in recent months as completed sales reached their highest level for four years, recent figures show.

The improving housing picture – which saw an average 1.6 per cent annual increase on prices from March to May according to property marketing firm ESPC – is tempered by falls across some areas of the city such as Stockbridge and Comely Bank, though many city centre properties appear to have increased in value.

The average price for an Edinburgh property now stands at £218,369. In Leith Walk and Easter Road the average price of a one-bedroom flat has fallen by 6.2 per cent year on year and now stands at £102,167.

ESPC’s figures suggest it remains a buyers’ market with properties being secured for an average of around five per cent below Home Report valuation.

But the validity of figures have been questioned by some property experts who believe they portray a rosier marketplace than the reality.

EPSC’s housing report comes amid news that ministers are to pull Scotland out from the UK system of stamp duty and introduce a new land buildings transaction tax.

First-time buyers and low-income families are expected to benefit from the changes.

David Marshall, business analyst with ESPC, said: “Typically in a city where the overall average is relatively stable, in any given period you’ll tend to see some areas where prices have risen and others where prices have dipped.

“These tend to simply be a result of volatility in more localised markets and are not reflective of long-term trends. Generally speaking, it is the market for smaller properties where sellers are finding conditions most challenging, whilst those selling larger, family homes are tending to find the market comparatively favourable.”

He added: “Market conditions this year are more favourable for sellers than was the case early last year but overall the balance of power still lies in favour of buyers.

“Around 70 per cent of properties sold are being secured for less than their Home Report valuation.

“This year sellers have shown a greater willingness to accept slightly lower offers on their current property and of course when they then come to buy they can look to recoup any money lost here by negotiating a discount on their new home.”

But Steven Currie, of property firm Murray and Currie, cast doubt on the accuracy of the figures and said the market remained “tough”.

“I don’t doubt their credibility and what is being reported may be true to an extent but I do believe these have been manipulated in some way,” he said. “If you speak to property professionals in Edinburgh they will tell you it’s very tough at the moment.

“You have to remember that property professionals will often not tell you the bad news because it’s bad for their business. If you’re selling your house and reading comments from estate agents talking negatively about the market, are you going to use them to sell your house?”

“Figures can be manipulated in many ways to sound good and while I do believe Edinburgh is quite a unique and desirable place to live it’s a very tough market just now.

“The message that’s being portrayed is that things are great and the market is doing well – I think there is a lot of self-interest there.

“Estate agents are having to work harder for their money than ever before.”