Hint of housing market recovery in Scottish capital

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By Michael MacLeod

FRESH hopes for green shoots of recovery in Scotland’s property market emerged yesterday (Tues) as Edinburgh estate agents reported rising sales.

Firms say sales doubled in the past four months, growing from 200 in February to 400 in June.

Interest in million-pound houses is said to be picking up and one seller, Warners, reported its best figures in over a year after selling 72 homes across the city in the last five weeks.

The boost is being put down to new home buyers entering the market.

Warners’ boss Scott Brown said the sales stats, published by the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC), showed would-be owners were taking advantage of good buying conditions.
He said: “These are the best figures we have had for over a year so it is a very promising sign that things are taking a turn for the better in the property market.

“At the start of the year we were only selling around six properties a week, so this is a significant increase that has been building up over the past few months.”

But he warned: “We are not out of the recession and these figures are still down on the peak sales two years ago.

“There is still a very long way to go before we see any real signs of a recovery in the market.”

Independent firm Rettie and Co said they had also seen a “notable increase” in the number of residential properties selling across Scotland.

They reported more expensive houses in the £250,000 to £750,000 range have been selling better than in the last half of 2008, which led to increasing activity for properties priced over £1 million.

The rise was also thanks to mortgage deposits becoming cheaper, according to ESPC lending analyst David Marshall.

He said: “There has been a slight relaxing in lending criteria and a marginal increase in the availability of mortgages which require slightly lower deposits.

“The number of property sales has been steadily increasing since February this year, but these figures are still lower than in previous years.

“July looks like it will be more of the same with the average house price being fairly consistent and the number of sales edging up slightly.

“But the average price is still 10-15 per-cent lower than it was at the peak of the market.”

In June, the average house price in the capital stood at £214,347, compared to £198,267 in January.

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