Scottish house prices fall but signs ‘encouraging’

Picture: Toby Williams
Picture: Toby Williams
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HOUSE prices in Scotland fell during the first three months of 2013, a newly released property survey shows.

The average price of a home in Scotland dropped by 0.4 per cent between January and March, compared with the same period in 2012.

However, sales of houses increased by 5 per cent, according to the figures from Registers of Scotland. A total of 14,567 houses were sold between January and March, compared with 13,867 in the same period last year.

The average residential property price is now £148,174 – down 0.4 per cent on 2012, the government agency said.

East Ayrshire had the largest percentage fall in sales (9.4 per cent) and Midlothian saw the biggest increase (58.7 per cent).

Glasgow had the biggest rise in sales, with 96 more houses sold in the first quarter of the year compared with early 2012.

Sales volumes also increased in Edinburgh, with 1,639 properties changing hands at a total value of about £335 million, making it the largest property market in Scotland.

Midlothian recorded the highest percentage increase (9 per cent) in average house price, from £168,552 to £183,751.

East Renfrewshire is still the most expensive local authority area in which to buy a house, with average prices up 4.3 per cent to £212,129.

A leading property expert claimed the figures showed Scotland’s property market had started to recover after years of poor sales.

Neil Harrison, head of marketing at the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre, said: “The market has had a fairly stable period, but in the last 12 months homeowners who have been putting off selling their properties have started to think more about selling.”

Registers of Scotland’s director of commercial services, Kenny Crawford, said: “It is encouraging to see a rise in volumes, and while the average price has fallen, it is not a substantial drop.

“We are seeing some interesting figures from areas like Midlothian where the volumes and average price have both increased.”

Mortgage approvals rise

MORTGAGE approvals recovered from a five-month low in March amid further signs that housing market activity is lifting, Bank of England figures showed yesterday.

Some 53,504 mortgages worth £8 billion were approved last month, edging back up from 51,947 approvals in February, which had been the lowest figure seen since September 2012.

Experts said government efforts to boost lending could well push the figure higher in the coming months, but they cautioned that approvals are still way below long-term norms, and on their own they are unlikely to give much “noticeable” support to the recovery of the economy.

Green light for creation of £2bn new town

AMBITIOUS plans to develop the largest new town to be built in Scotland for a generation were given the go-ahead yesterday.

Members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee of Aberdeenshire Council granted outline planning permission for the creation of Chapelton – a £2 billion settlement to be built on farmland, ten miles south of Aberdeen.

Detailed planning permission was also granted for the first 802 homes to be built at the 2,000-acre site on the sprawling Elsick estate.

The long-term master plan includes proposals for the creation of seven separate neighbourhoods across the site, with up to 8,000 homes.

The new town will also include industrial and business developments next to Newtonhill, with the potential to create up to 8,200 jobs.

Lord Southesk, director of the Elsick Development Company, said: “Today’s news means we can potentially be on site in the autumn and it will be very exciting to begin work on this landmark project.”