THE number of houses being put up for sale in the Capital with an asking price of £300,000 or more soared by 80 per cent as owners tried to avoid a planned tax increase.
Property firm ESPC said 170 homes in that price bracket came on the market in November and December compared with just under 100 in the same period the previous year.
ESPC business analyst David Marshall said the surge was driven by people seeking to sell before the introduction of the new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in April to replace stamp duty. Anyone paying more than £254,000 for a house was due to face a bigger tax bill.
But after last-minute changes by the Scottish Government, the threshold for paying a higher tax has been raised to £325,000.
Mr Marshall said: “Before these changes, there was a strong incentive to bring forward your transaction to avoid the increased tax bill. That burst of activity we had all been preparing for is now likely to be less pronounced, although once you get above £325,000 that incentive is still there.”
He said around 15 per cent of transactions in Edinburgh fell into that category.
ESPC reported the housing market had outperformed expectations in 2014, with buyer and seller activity at its highest level since the economic downturn in 2008.
During the last three months of the year, 33 per cent of homes sold in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife achieved a selling price above their Home Report valuation.
The number of homes coming on to the market also rose by 21 per cent.
A breakdown of house sales showed property prices in the Stockbridge/Comely Bank area rose by 20.4 per cent in October-December compared with the same quarter the previous year.
In Gorgie/Dalry, prices were up 8.5 per cent and in Leith Walk/Easter Road by 5.5 per cent, while they dipped in the city centre and Marchmont/Bruntsfield.
Mr Marshall said local factors such as a handful of particularly attractive properties coming on the market at the same time could produce price spikes, but it did not reflect long-term trends.
He said more fashionable areas had outperformed other parts of town, but he did not expect the Stockbridge/Comely Bank increase to be sustained.
However, he said the overall picture of steady improvement witnessed over the last year-and-a-half should continue in 2015, with the number of homes changing hands rising and house prices inching up by around four per cent.