ESPC: First-time buyers drive surge in property market

ESPC: First-time buyers drive surge in property market

Property sales were up in the November 2023 – January 2024 period, according to the latest ESPC House Price Report.

The market remained steady during this traditionally quieter period, with a 2.8 per cent rise in sales volumes. This hints at increasing numbers of buyers in the market in comparison to winter 2022/23.

Dunfermline continued to be hugely popular with buyers, as it secured the highest volumes of property sales, though levels were down 10.5 per cent on November 2022 – January 2023. Leith was the second most-popular place to buy property, and sales volumes soared 17.8 per cent year-on-year during this period. However, this rise is somewhat overshadowed by the rising popularity of family-friendly Corstorphine, where sales volumes rocketed 38.3 per cent annually.

Two-bedroom flats in Leith were the biggest sellers, with sales volumes for this property type up 16.2 per cent year-on-year. They were closely followed by one-bed flats in the same location; the sales volume of this property type increased by 33.3 per cent, hinting at an influx of new buyers in the market looking to purchase for the first time.

Gorgie has long been touted as an up-and-coming neighbourhood, and the data from this three-month period shows it was increasingly popular with buyers: sales volumes of one-bedroom flats in Gorgie rose significantly, by 83.3 per cent – unsurprising given this is the capital’s most affordable property type.

Outside of the capital, three-bedroom houses in Dunfermline were the biggest sellers, although figures were much steadier in comparison; sales volumes for this property type rose 8.3 per cent annually.

In line with the trends we’ve seen in recent months, the average property selling price across Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife, and the Borders declined 4.4 per cent during November – January, taking the new average to £271,106. The increasing frequency of lower overbids beyond home report valuations could be partially the cause of this decline, however, there were also substantially more properties purchased in the lower LBTT bands, Bands 1 and 2, than the higher bands, meaning that overall, a larger volume of lower-priced properties were purchased during this period.

West Fife & Kinross and West Lothian both saw a boost in their region’s property prices; in West Fife & Kinross, the average property selling price was £210,454 (a rise of 3.5 per cent annually), while in West Lothian, the average price rose significantly, up 28.6 per cent year-on-year to £239,424.This is likely due to a sizeable increase in the volume of detached homes sold in the area, hinting at rising demand from family buyers for this region.

In Edinburgh, property prices declined 4.2 per cent, taking the average to £289,363, however there has been a substantial boost to the volume of smaller, cheaper properties sold in the city, which could skew the overall figures. The popular South West of the city enjoyed the biggest increase in property prices throughout the capital, with property selling prices here rising 10.7 per cent to £316,822. By contrast, the North West of Edinburgh saw the biggest decline, with average selling prices declining 19.8 per cent to £247,164.

Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, said: “November-January is typically a much quieter time for the property market, however, it’s clear to see that this wasn’t the case this time. The market appears fairly steady overall, and all the signs point to increasing numbers of first-time buyers coming into the market, which is very welcome news after a very difficult period financially for many in their position.

“There has been a significant increase in the available options for buyers, especially those looking for smaller flats in Edinburgh hotspots, perhaps due to rising numbers of landlords deciding to exit the rental market and offload their properties in response to ongoing legislation around rental rates, leading to an influx of first-time buyer-friendly homes coming on to the market.

“The average selling price has declined overall, but as with our previous report, if we look past the headline figures, we can clearly see reasons for this that should reassure homeowners that there hasn’t been a wide-ranging decline in property values.”

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