Foreign house hunters splash out to boost Capital property market

HOUSE hunters from abroad have been thanked for boosting the Capital's property market with a host of prime townhouses now selling for more than their asking price.

Estate agents say they have witnessed a resurgence in interest from overseas buyers since the beginning of the year, fuelling a 50 per cent rise in sales compared with the same period last year.

Buyers from as far afield as Singapore, Australia and New York have been prepared to spend between 400,000 and 1 million on properties in Edinburgh, usually for their first home and not as a holiday bolt-hole.

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Matthew Munro, head of Edinburgh residential sales at Knight Frank, said: "It is not traditionally unusual to have buyers from abroad, but the return of them has been.

"There has been interest from across the world and this is often linked to the quality of Edinburgh schooling, and the fact people love the city."

The city firm, based at Edinburgh Quay, said it had sold around 22 properties in the 400,000-1m price bracket so far this year, 80 per cent of which went for offers over their Home Report valuation.

Among those was a house in Jeffrey Avenue, in Blackhall, which sold to its first viewer for 10 per cent more than the original valuation.

A house on Maybury Road had around 50 viewers and also went on to sell for around 20 per cent more than its valuation.

Mr Munro said: "For a while we had a small number of buyers looking at a small number of properties, much like fish in a pond following each other around.

"Nobody was really committing, but then a few buyers appeared, some from overseas, and we got a really good mix."

Among those was a buyer from Canada who spent around 700,000 on a property for her child to live in while studying in Edinburgh at university.

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Mr Munro said: "Quite often the buyers are expats buying their principal property, occasionally a second home.

"They are not necessarily linked to the banking world any more, either."

He said many were able to take advantage of the weak pound, coupled with knowledge that buying a property in Edinburgh has not been as cheap for many years.

Estate agents dealing with properties above the 1m guide price are expecting a similar level of interest to follow, with prices now off by about 9 per cent from their peak in 2007.

Mr Munro said: "We need to see that same level of enthusiasm grow in the upper end of the market as we are seeing here.

"As for the lower end, I think location will always be the key. If there is a property in the right place with the right price, it will sell. It's still a buyers' market."