CITY centre properties in Edinburgh have plummeted by almost 10 per cent compared with this time last year, new figures show.
The average house price for the capital between August and October was £217,867 – down 2.1 per cent on the same period a year ago, according to data released by ESPC.
However, the largest fall was in city centre properties, which dropped 9.5 per cent, with the average price £230,820.
David Marshall, business analyst with ESPC, said: “Many people, particularly first-time buyers, are still facing difficulties securing mortgages and the concerns many people are facing over job security are also constraining demand.”
In contrast with city centre properties, three-bedroom semi-detached houses and four-bedroom detached homes have gone up in value.
Four-bedroom detached houses are up 1.5 per cent, with the average price now £415,637. Prices for three-bedroom semi-detached homes rose by 0.02 per cent, with the average now £233,257.
Elsewhere in the Lothians, prices in West Lothian saw the biggest increase, at 16.5 per cent, with average prices up from £149,602 to £174,318. East Lothian saw a 0.05 per cent increase, while in Midlothian prices fell by 3.7 per cent
Mr Marshall said: “There has been very little change in the market over the past few months. The number of homes on the market is higher than you would normally see at this time of year while the number of active buyers is still lower meaning that market conditions strongly favour those who are in a position to buy.
“Buyers are frequently able to negotiate discounts on properties and that has helped to bring house prices in most areas back down from the high levels we saw last year.
“The market is most challenging for sellers of smaller properties with activity from first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors both well below pre-credit crunch levels.
“By comparison, demand for family homes is typically more robust, although even here the number of homes selling is still below what would have been seen prior to the economic downturn.”
Last night, David Bookbinder, head of policy and public affairs at the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland, called on the Scottish Government to introduce loan guarantees to help first-time buyers and reassure lenders.
Mr Bookbinder said: “From the buyer’s point of view, even a modest decrease in prices is good news, but it doesn’t get rid of the deposit problem.
“The lending situation has gone from one extreme to the other with far too much caution now. The Scottish Government could play a part in using loan guarantees to reassure lenders.
“So far I’ve only heard this talked about in stimulating the new build market, but it could be used to help deal with this problem.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The real issue for first-time buyers is accessing finance from the banks, and banks must do more to help people on to the housing ladder, and make sure mortgages available on a fair and reasonable basis.
“We also need action on deposits, to ensure they are made less of a barrier – in particular to first-time buyers. On the Scottish Government’s part, while supporting loans in this fashion is not in our immediate plans, we have introduced a number of substantial measures to help first-time buyers.
“That includes significantly increasing the budget for our open market shared equity scheme to expand opportunities for people who can afford the costs of home ownership, but cannot buy without assistance.
“We have also increased the funding for our new supply shared equity with developers scheme, which not only increases choice and opportunities for those first-time buyers looking to access home ownership, but is also helping support Scotland’s house-building industry.”