House sales in Scotland at 11-year high

The Scottish housing market has hit an 11-year high for sales after a surge in transactions in the North-east and East Lothian, according to new figures.

Nearly 20,000 homes were sold in the first quarter of the year.

The Scottish housing market has hit an 11-year high for sales after a surge in transactions in the North-east and East Lothian, according to new figures.

Aberdein Considine’s Property Monitor report shows homes collectively worth £3.4 billion changed hands during January, February and March this year – the highest since the credit crunch hit the global economy in 2008.

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Sales for the quarter are up £80 million – 2.3 per cent – on last year and £225 million – 7 per cent – on 2016.

A total of 19,491 homes in Scotland were sold in the first quarter of 2019, up 2.8 per cent year-on-year due to significant growth in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian.

It comes despite predictions Brexit uncertainty would make the market slow.

Managing partner Jacqueline Law said: “It had been feared that Brexit may bring the property market to a halt.

“However, quite the opposite has turned out to be true so far with the value of property changing hands returning to near-record levels.

“In fact, the only time that first quarter sales have been higher was in the years leading up to the global financial crisis.

“Businesses and consumers across Scotland can’t escape the uncertainty which Brexit is creating, but what is clear is that people are getting on with their lives whilst the politicians try and resolve the situation, which we hope will be sooner rather than later.”

The average cost of a property in Scotland is 8.6 per cent higher compared with the same period in 2016, with prices now at £166,334.

Despite the sales surge, the report does show a sudden halt to the house-price growth in the country’s biggest cities.

Edinburgh, which has had its best period of property price growth since before the recession, has recorded falling prices so far this year. The capital remains the most expensive place to buy a home in Scotland, with an average sale price of £258,822.

Prices have fallen 1.7 per cent in Glasgow so far in 2019 to an average of £152,079.

Average prices continue to fall in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, Scotland’s other major market.

But after years of decline caused by the oil and gas downturn, confidence is returning, with sales in Aberdeen alone up by nearly 13 per cent year-on-year.

Last month First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that first-time buyers will be able to claim up to £25,000 in Scottish Government support to meet the cost of a deposit on their new home.

Ms Sturgeon unveiled plans for a £150 million national pilot scheme which will provide loan support for young Scots seeking to get on to the housing ladder. They will have to fund a minimum of 5 per cent of the value of their new house themselves, with the loans to make up the rest.

The scheme will get under way later this year. The loan will be secured on the equity of the home.

The government also unveiled plans for a crackdown on Airbnb and other short-term letting agents.