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House sales in Scotland reached a 12-year high in December, according to the latest property figures.

The increase – recorded by estate agent Aberdein Considine’s Property Monitor report – has been linked to a strong first-time buyer and new build market.

Figures show that, across Scotland, more than 10,000 homes changed hands in December, the highest figure for the month since 2007 and the credit crunch.

This was a 15 per cent increase on November’s figure and the highest single month of sales recorded since October 2018.

In the last three months of 2020, East Dunbartonshire saw the biggest increase in transactions, up 24% on 2019, while Aberdeen and Glasgow also enjoyed boosts of 10% and 1.6% respectively.

Douglas Telfer, Property Partner at Aberdein Considine in Glasgow, said the figures suggest that the market is no longer as seasonal as it used to be.

He said: “You have to go back to December 2007, before the global credit crunch, to find a higher month of pre-Christmas property sales.

“It used to be that you didn’t get many sales close to Christmas, but now that’s no longer the case. The market is showing signs that it is no longer seasonal.”

Mr Telfer claimed that some of the sales could be down to a “Boris bounce” following the general election result on December 12.

However, Faisal Choudhry, director of residential research at Savills, said the deals being finalised in December would have been agreed months before the vote.

He said: “We’ll see the effects of the general election in the next few months, in the first quarter of 2020.”

Mr Choudhry added that the December high was not surprising given the relatively steady growth in the Scottish market over the last three years.

He said: “Scotland has remained relatively unaffected by the recent political uncertainty compared to other regions of the UK.

“In Scotland transaction numbers have steadily grown, whereas other UK regions have seen a significant drop in transactions since the EU referendum in 2016.

“Uncertainty is built into our market because we’ve been witnessing uncertainty long before the EU referendum, we’ve had the Indyref back in 2014.

“I’m not surprised that we’ve had a strong December in terms of sales, it’s been a continuing theme for the last three years, helped by growth in the new build market.”

The statistics from Aberdein Considine show that total sales in Scotland reached £18.7 billion – £550 million more than 2018.

East Dunbartonshire recorded the highest average price rise in the last quarter of 2019, with an increase of 9.5% to £263,291. making it the third most expensive place to live in Scotland.

The most expensive location was East Lothian which overtook Edinburgh by around £2000, with an average house price of £267,905.

In Glasgow, the average price increased by 1% to £163,874 and the city recorded 3290 home sales – the highest number in Scotland.

Mr Telfer said: “Glasgow continues to be hugely popular, especially with first time buyers, and with office developments going up rapidly this is likely to draw in more people who want to live and work here, and enjoy all the city has to offer.

“As we head into the spring market, there is every sign that the wider trend in Scotland will continue, thanks largely to an injection of first-time buyers using new shared equity schemes.”

Mr Choudhry also said that there has been an increase in the £200,000 to £750,000 market in Scotland due to price growth, while property sales of £1 million and over had also reached a 12-year high.

“Looking ahead what Scotland needs is more supply in the second hand market and realistic pricing has to be key,” he added.

The Property Monitor report shows that in total in Scotland, sales increased in 25 out of the country’s 32 local authority areas.

First-time buyers accounted for 50% of mortgaged property purchases last year, with up to 6,000 more are expected to take advantage of the Scottish Government’s new First Home Fund in 2020.

The shared equity scheme gives buyers up to £25,000 towards the cost of buying a home and is forecast to be a driving force in the Scottish market this year.

However, Aberdein Considine warns that new entrants will still face the same old obstacles as they step onto the property ladder for the first time –rising house prices.

By Victoria Weldon

Source: Herald Scotland

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