Crisis, what crisis? The number of homes up for sale is soaring

MORE homes have been put on the market in the Capital so far this year than by this time in 2007, despite growing fears over the credit crunch.

New figures by a group of the Capital's leading estate agents have revealed the number of homes put up for sale between January and March is up 14 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2007.

The five agents that make up the Edinburgh and Lothians Property Guide said the number of houses being sold in the period was also up on last year.

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While they admit first-time buyers have found it difficult since 100 per cent mortgages dried up, they say an increase in buy-to-let investors is keeping the market moving.

Between January and March 2008, the five firms saw 1243 properties put on the market, compared to only 1089 last year.

Steve Spence, a senior partner at estate agent Neilson's, said: "We have history on our side. I've been in the business for 30 years and I've never seen prices go down.

"The last time there were problems, around 1989-93, property went through the floor in England but there were not the same problems here – we just levelled off.

"If there is a weakness in the market it is first-time buyers. The lack of a 100 per cent mortgage is a big problem but they haven't always been readily available in the past either.

"People who don't have access to deposits will be forced to rent and that creates a hole in the market. But it is filled by buy-to-let buyers who know there is increased demand for rental property."

He said Neilson's had sold 44 properties in the past four weeks alone, which he said was a strong figure for this time of the year.

Andrew Kelso, a 34-year-old doctor, put his one-bedroom flat in Bonnington on the market for offers over 130,000 two weeks ago and has already given viewings to ten people, two of whom put in notes of interest.

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He said he was confident he would get a good price for the flat, which he bought for 100,000 five years ago.

"If I wasn't to get the price I wanted I would just take it off the market," he said. "I've been keeping half an eye on the ESPC and houses are coming and going quite quickly.

"There still seems to be plenty of people wanting to buy."

Leslie Deans, owner of Leslie Deans & Co, said that the demand for moving to Edinburgh was continuing to fuel the market.

He said: "Whether it's a promotion, a blossoming relationship, a baby on the way or children leaving home, life ensures there are always reasons to buy or sell your home. This is different from the position down south where people tend to buy for lifestyle reasons – where people want to live in the new top area or trade up to show off to their friends.

"That's why, where people have done that, and taken out big mortgages, there is so much concern south of the border.

"Ultimately, people keep buying in Edinburgh because it's a great city and offers a unique property market.

"It is not subject to the fluctuations or insecurities of other UK cities."