Lothians house sales at highest level in six years

Experts have hailed the figures as a further sign of improvement. Picture: Dan Phillips
Experts have hailed the figures as a further sign of improvement. Picture: Dan Phillips
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HOME sales in the Capital have soared to their highest level for six years, new figures have revealed.

The statistics from SPC Scotland show that the total number of deals across Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife surged by 47.5 per cent in the last three months of 2013 to reach the highest quarterly figure since 2007.

And the Capital’s strong showing – accompanied by a five per cent rise in average house prices to £212,296 – means the market here is outpacing counterparts elsewhere in Scotland, which registered an increase in transactions of just over 36 per cent.

Experts have hailed the data as a sign that Edinburgh’s property market is now firmly on the road to recovery, as growing confidence among homeowners makes them more likely to put properties on the market.

David Marshall, business analyst with ESPC, said: “Buyer activity rose throughout 2013 and the number of homes being bought and sold is now as high as it has been for a number of years.”

Not everywhere enjoyed a property bounce – in West Lothian there was a 10.4 per cent fall in the average selling price, although a strong rise the previous year means values there are still in line with 2011 levels. And in East Lothian, the house price increase over 2012-13 was relatively weak at just 0.9 per cent.

Mr Marshall said that, although last year’s figures were impressive, the market in Edinburgh and the Lothians was not completely free of weakness caused by the credit crunch.

He said: “The volume of sales is still some way below what we would have seen at the peak of the market and properties are being secured for an average of about two per cent below their Home Report valuation. That having been said, market conditions today are certainly more favourable for sellers than has been the case for several years.”

House price growth across Scotland over the course of 2013 was steady, with a 4.8 per cent annual increase bringing the average value to £179,223.

Bosses at SPC Scotland welcomed the figures and said the improving picture in Edinburgh and the rest of the country was underpinned by a faster than expected recovery in the wider economy.

Chairman Peter Ryder said: “The number of homes selling across Scotland rose throughout 2013 and the rate of growth accelerated as the year progressed.

“In the third quarter sales were up 29 per cent annually and this was followed by a rise of over 36 per cent during the fourth quarter.

“The economic picture last year was brighter than had been widely expected and activity among first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors in particular grew strongly.”

And he said recent trends in sales and house prices were building a foundation of strength for 2014 as homeowners in Edinburgh and Scotland feel more confident.

“Importantly, we’re starting to see the number of homes coming on to the market rise as the improvement we’ve seen over the last 12 to 18 months has encouraged more sellers to test the market,” he said.

“This growth in supply is likely to continue into 2014 and should help to keep house price inflation under control as we move forward.”