"It is first time buyers who are driving the market as they continue to take advantage of ongoing low interest rates and relatively low deposit requirements."
House prices have surged in Scotland as the average price of a home rose by £3,217 in April, causing seven regions to reach new peak prices, according to the latest Your Move house price index.
The data shows that after stalling in March, prices increased 1.9% – the strongest growth since 2007, if spikes in March 2015 and 2016 as a result of changes to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax are taken out of the equation.
The average house value increased to reach £175,087 with annual house price growth rebounding strongly, rising from 2.2% in March to 3.6% in April, and now outpacing the rate for England and Wales as a whole (3.5% in the year to April).
Your Move says price growth is being driven by strong demand coupled with weak supply, most prominently seen in Glasgow, a popular location for first time buyers, which has experienced the strongest annual growth of any significant market in Scotland over the last year.
The housing market has seen significant growth across a broad section of the market, rather than being driven solely by a hike at the top. In fact, sales of high value properties, those over £750,000, continue to trail last year’s totals: just 17 were sold in April, against 27 in the same month last year.
First time buyers are also pushing the Scotland housing market, supported by low interest rates and lower deposits required by lenders. Recent CML analysis of Scotland’s market shows the number of first time buyers rising by over a fifth in the first quarter of the year from 6,200 in Q1 of 2016 to 7,600 in Q1, 2017.
At the same time, strong demand is meeting a squeeze on supply. The most recent monthly survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors shows surveyors’ average housing stock at an all time low. This is increasing competition – and prices – for the relatively few properties that are coming onto the market.
Christine Campbell, Your Move managing director in Scotland, said: “Our figures highlight that whilst average house prices continue to rise, it is first time buyers who are driving the market as they continue to take advantage of ongoing low interest rates and relatively low deposit requirements. They hold the ‘key to the door’ and as such, are influencing local markets which is leading to greater balance in prices amongst Scotland’s major cities.
“While the election result may have come as a surprise to some, it is imperative that demand for first time buyer properties is met with increased supply through new builds and that confidence in the market is restored to encourage activity across the board.”