Rebecca March, head of residential sales for Galbraith in the Lothians and central Scotland, said that buyer confidence remained high, despite political and economic uncertainty:
We have seen strong demand in most parts of the region throughout 2018, with sales closing relatively quickly in many cases, as long as properties are accurately priced. Some postcodes have seen considerable house price growth in recent years and this has continued or accelerated in 2018. West Lothian was a particularly strong performer with growth of 12.2 per cent although East Lothian was close behind, with an increase of 11.7 per cent compared with 2017. These are among the most buoyant markets in Scotland, outside the capital.
The very strong demand for property in Edinburgh causes a ripple effect, pushing up prices in the surrounding areas. Families are relocating from the centre of town to the more affordable areas of East and West Lothian which have good transport links to the city centre and Edinburgh Airport. Properties in West Lothian in particular remain very affordable compared with central Edinburgh. The Lothians overall have many well-regarded schools, areas of beautiful countryside, varied leisure pursuits and offer an appealing rural lifestyle.
We’ve also noticed an increase in demand from Scots returning home after working in England or further afield for a period, which has been evident for a few years and continued in 2018. The house price differential between many parts of England and Scotland is a driver for many people to return home and be able to buy a much more spacious property, with the added benefit of a more relaxed lifestyle.
We expect these trends to continue in 2019, despite the continued uncertainty over Brexit. The further increase in the sales tax imposed on second homes by the Scottish government, which comes into effect from the end of January, may have a slight dampening effect on the market, although second home owners do not make up the majority of buyers. Scots have been subjected to two referendums and a general election in the past four years, so perhaps uncertainty is the new normal!
Figures from the Edinburgh Solicitors’ Property Centre showed an average house price increase of 12.2 per cent in West Lothian; 11.7 per cent in East Lothian and 5 percent in Midlothian for the 12 months ending November 2018. Average house prices increased to £183,358 in West Lothian; £242,689 in East Lothian and £202,689 in Midlothian.
Galbraith has a network of eleven offices throughout Scotland, handling residential property sales worth £54m per quarter, on average. The firm also manages and sells rural estates, farms and land.