Help to buy boosts Scottish recovery

All seven cities in Scotland have seen a house price growth over the past year and prices in Aberdeen climbed 12% since February 2013.

And Inverclyde topped the table for both sales and price rises as the average house price in Scotland hit £160,678.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, part of LSL Property Services, said: “Help to Buy has been the spark driving the engine of recovery for the Scottish housing market. Since launching at the tail end of 2013, the scheme has helped thousands get a foot on the ladder.

“With sustained growth taking hold, there are now signs that the independence debate is less likely to rock the housing recovery boat.

“However, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding the ramifications of an independent Scotland for the banking sector.

“The potential fiscal impact may be felt in mortgage accessibility and employment stability, which in turn could have a knock-on effect on housing.

“Over the past year we’ve witnessed average prices climb by over £5,500, with Inverclyde seeing the greatest annual growth of all, at 16% – with the region clearly benefitting from its close proximity to Glasgow.”

And Sexton also commented on the revival of Scotland’s other cities.

He said: “In a sign of the widespread revival, all seven Scottish cities have also seen price rises from last year.

“This urban renaissance is being driven by first-time buyers benefitting from Help to Buy, typically taking the plunge in vibrant cities. Aberdeen in particular has seen the average house price climb by 12% over the past twelve months – it has its own micro-economy.

“The same trend is being seen across metropolitan areas in England, with places like Manchester also seeing positive growth.

“Under Help to Buy more people have been able to move from rental properties into their own home, and this has created a ripple effect unlocking greater movement further up the ladder.

“Overall, total house sales in Scotland rose by a seasonally-adjusted 12% between January and February. Inverclyde also topped the sales table, with transactions in the three months to February climbing by 56% compared to a year ago.

“But there are also indications that the first-time buyer express is starting to lose some steam. In the three months to February, flats – the archetypal home of new buyers – saw the smallest uplift in sales. Last summer the opposite was true.

“The next few months will be a testing time. The debate is sure to ramp up in intensity as we edge ever closer to September and all eyes are on Mark Carney’s next move for housing. But for now Scotland can simply revel in a revived property market.”