Scottish house-buying slowing down, says report

THE recent surge in interest among Scottish home-buyers has begun to level off, with the growth in would-be buyers starting to slow last month according to a new report.
The pace of house-buying appears to have slowed in new figures. Picture: Neil HannaThe pace of house-buying appears to have slowed in new figures. Picture: Neil Hanna
The pace of house-buying appears to have slowed in new figures. Picture: Neil Hanna

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that the number of people looking to buy a home in February increased at their slowest rate since April last year.

24 per cent more surveyors reported a growth in house-buying enquiries than reported a fall. This is down ten percent on January’s figure, and 28 per cent on December’s.

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RICS’ latest residential market survey said it seems that the initial surge in demand, driven by the more accessible housing market, has started to ease off slowly.

In other findings, the number of homes coming up for sale failed to pick up substantially and supply is still “falling well short of required levels”.

As for prices, the cost of a home continued to rise last month, with 45 per cent more chartered surveyors reporting prices increasing rather than falling.

The cost of a home has now risen across Scotland for ten months in a row, the report said.

‘Pent-up demand exhausting itself’

RICS Scotland director Sarah Speirs said: “The growth in buyer numbers that we’ve seen for some months started to slow down in February, as the surge in interest sparked towards the end of last summer began to level off.

“While this does not mean an end to the increasing activity we’ve been seeing recently, it does suggest that the pent-up demand generated throughout the downturn is gradually exhausting itself.

“The ongoing issue that we are facing, however, is the lack of homes coming onto the market.

“While it is true that more houses are being built, supply is simply not enough to satisfy demand.

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“As a result, prices are likely to continue to move higher, making it ever harder for people to take an initial step onto the property ladder.”

A number of professionals who responded to the survey spoke of a positive picture.

Some respondents predicted both prices and transaction levels will continue to increase as summer arrives, when the market traditionally starts to pick up.

Gavin Miller, of Graham and Sibbald chartered surveyors in Stirling, said: “February has continued on the promising start to the year that we experienced so far in 2014.

“A steady flow of home reports and replacement home report instructions shows signs of an improving market.”

Ian Morton, of Bradburne and Co in St Andrews, Fife, told the survey: “The mild winter has meant an early start to sellers’ instructions and viewings. This increase has been steady in February and looks likely to continue.”

Others presented a more mixed picture.

Adrian Stott, from J and E Shepherd in East Lothian, said: “The volume of transactions has been increasing and prices remain fairly stable.

“However, the lack of new supply is still an issue and is having an impact on the market.”

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Alexander Inglis, of CKD Galbraith in the Borders, said: “The sales market remains optimistic although more vendors are now starting to speak about the referendum. Activity is up but prices remain pretty static.”