It is becoming increasingly difficult to describe the year-to-year Scottish housing market in a nutshell and at times it seems as unpredictable and changeable as our weather. But as 2024 fast approaches, predicting what’s around the corner based on what we have seen in the last 12 months is a feat worth attempting.
The Scottish Housing Market in 2023
As of November 2023, the average selling price of property in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife, and the Borders dropped 6.6% year-on-year to £273,348, which ties in with predictions given for the 2023 market at the end of last year. However, it could not be said that we have entered a “buyers’ market” with properties still attaining on average 102.6% of their Home Report valuation and certain hotspots emerging.
While prices have cooled in the last 12 months (driven in the first half by interest rate rises, and throughout the year by the cost-of-living crisis, among other factors), it’s not stopping property purchasing. Buyers in the east of Scotland in particular are still willing to dig deep to get what they want, with properties in Inverleith, New Town, and parts of East Lothian remaining especially buoyant.
Properties in the west of Scotland have also seen a price increase, with the average property price in Glasgow City sitting at £154,806 in the summer, 3% up on the previous year. This is even higher in certain areas, including the ever-popular West End.
Closing dates have declined slightly in comparison to last year, with 10% fewer properties selling by this route. However, in the more popular areas the closing date remains very popular, no doubt more so with sellers than with buyers…
Despite the average selling price falling in 2023 in most areas, new property listings increased by 3.1% year-on-year compared to September 2022, which is encouraging. Some confidence seems to be returning to the market, partly driven by improvements in the published inflation figures and the knock-on effect of gradually improving mortgage rates being offered on the high street.
It is worth noting that new mortgage advances to first-time buyers in Scotland decreased by 13.2% in 2022-23, and to home movers by 12.0%, compared to 2019-20. As such, we will need to see a period of steady interest rates in 2024 to allow time for these figures to turn around.
Property hot spots – East Lothian and Glasgow
East Lothian has become a front runner in the UK property market this year, particularly in the middle of the year. According to Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC), buyers in the region were “paying more over Home Report valuation than any other ESPC area”.
The Glasgow market remains similar to more popular parts of Edinburgh, but quite fragmented, rendering it dangerous to generalise. A lack of quality stock here combined with an influx of cash buyers has kept prices above Home Report levels and there are no signs of this trend changing, with ongoing demand for these areas from young professionals, families, and downsizing retirees.
What to expect in 2024
So, after a somewhat static 2023, what can we expect from the Scottish property market in 2024? We will likely continue to observe fragmentation, with the hotspots mentioned above continuing to attract competitive closing dates.
With a fair wind in regards to interest rates and the economy in general (in a General Election year…), we would expect the drop in prices in 2023 to gradually reverse in the months to come.
This article was co-authored by private wealth and tax Trainee, Emma Brown.