Reports today added to the weight of evidence that the property market in the UK, and indeed in Scotland, might have turned the corner.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (reported here in The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/jul/16/house-prices-rise-uk), house prices across the UK, in all measured regions, rose on a year-on-year basis in May 2013 (in other words, prices were higher than at this point last year). London continues to lead the way with house price rises that would put 2007, the last year that the rest of the UK saw significant rises in prices, to shame. However, even when you strip-out the London figures, the rest of the UK still stood 1.9% higher. Scotland was 0.8% up on the same time last year.
There have been little pockets of good news and certain regions outperforming averages in the past couple of years in particular, but Scotland has tended to lag behind most of the UK. Of course, considering ‘Scotland’ (or indeed the North of England) as a ‘region’ is slightly laughable given the variations in house prices and the property market that you can find in a 20 mile radius, but the important thing to take from this is that it’s the first time I’ve seen the Scottish region’s house prices come out of one of these surveys looking at all healthy for a while.
Thus far in July we have sold more properties, at MOV8, than we have actually signed-up to go on the market. We have been seeing this trend, particularly in the first half of the month, for several months in a row now (I think it started in October of 2012) so we are in no doubt ‘on the ground’ about the property market getting healthier. Of course, we don’t want to be complacent or glib about this: trends come and go. However, the most important part of all this is not just a relatively small increase in values in Scotland: it’s also hugely important that a healthy proportion of properties that go to the market actual sell and whether there is good movement of properties across the whole spectrum of the market in terms of values, areas and type of buyer (i.e. first time buyer activity, buy-to-let etc). Increasingly in the last few months we’ve been seeing a wider range of different values of properties selling and seen properties in areas that weren’t terribly buoyant a couple of years ago suddenly going great guns. These stats today back-up the impression that, touch wood, we might just about be out of the woods on the much-touted possibility of house prices dropping again in a way that we saw in 2008.