Record property boom sees house sales worth £3 billion

A RECORD number of homes were sold in and around Edinburgh last year, property experts said today.

The Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre said 18,500 homes, worth almost 3 billion, were sold in its area during 2005 - the highest figures on record.

Almost 5000 homes were sold in the final quarter of 2005, a rise of almost 10 per cent on the equivalent period 12 months previously. In December alone, the ESPC sold 1500 properties, with a total value of just under 250 million.

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The average cost of buying a home in Edinburgh last year was 175,199, according to the agency.

A new report from the ESPC reveals that the average selling price across the city shot up 3.7 per cent during 2005.

But during the final quarter of the year there was an increase in Edinburgh of 6.4 per cent.

The number of properties sold in the Capital in the three months leading up to Christmas shot up by 13 per cent compared to the same period in 2004. Experts believe prices in Edinburgh will maintain a steady increase this year and are unlikely to match the massive increases seen during the city's peak period three years ago.

EPSC chiefs believe the housing market has stabilised in recent months and that the first few months of 2006 are likely to be buoyant for sales.

Demand for homes in areas within commuting distance of the Capital helped make the year the busiest ever for the agency.

Property prices in Falkirk jumped by an average of 19.6 per cent to 115,842, while in Fife the average price of a property rose to 123,170 - an increase of 6.1 per cent.

Ron Smith, chief executive of the ESPC, said: "The strong performance witnessed toward the end of 2005 has continued at the start of 2006, with sales volume through the first four weeks up by 16.6 per cent. It's a very positive beginning to the year."

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ESPC marketing director Simon Fairclough said: "While we have not seen the same increase in property prices in Edinburgh that we were seeing two or three years ago, there is no doubt demand for property in Edinburgh is as strong as ever.

"That is particularly reflected in the figures for the last quarter of 2005.

"The current position demonstrates the underlying strength of the property market in Edinburgh and it is certainly not in anyone's interests if the city starts to price itself out of the market.

"There are a number of drivers behind the popularity of property in Edinburgh, including the strength of the local economy, the fact Edinburgh is a beautiful city in which to live and work in, and its rich culture and heritage."

Estate agent Strutt and Parker is predicting an average price increase of property in Edinburgh of five per cent throughout 2006.

Partner Andrew Rettie said the absence of a General Election, record salaries and bonuses for city workers, and a rise in buyers from England and abroad were all expected to help boost the market in the Capital.

He added: "Buyers are now searching for property all year round where, traditionally, the winter months were quieter. With property acquisition on a 12-month cycle, the market remains active and robust.

"As a result, sellers should place their property on the market as early as possible to capitalise on the imbalance of supply and demand."