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Poll slump fails to shake house prices in capital



Jody Harrison Reporter

HOUSE prices in Edinburgh have bucked a trend that has seen a slowdown gradually grip the property market in the days before and after the referendum.

New figures show that low numbers of houses for sale and high demand continued to push up prices in the capital, even as estate agents across the country saw business drop off in the weeks surrounding the historic vote.

Edinburgh firm Knight Frank said that average house prices rose by 1.3 per cent in the capital between June and last month, and are now 4.9 per cent higher than they were last year.

A snapshot of stock levels at the end of September also reveals that there were 27 per cent fewer properties available for sale than at the same time last year, while the number of prospective buyers rose by 19 per cent.

Edward Douglas-Home, head of Edinburgh City sales, said: "While the flurry of activity that was predicted in the event of a No vote hasn't materialised yet, we have dealt with a number of buyers and vendors who put off making decisions until after the vote.

"The recent figures highlight just how buoyant the Edinburgh market has been. Premiums have been paid for the best homes in the best locations and high demand from would-be buyers is evident across the market. We expect that activity will continue to pick up."

Across the UK a brake appears to have been applied to house price growth, with the Halifax saying that property values lifted by 0.6 per cent month-on-month in September, the smallest increase in months. The findings came as a report from property website Zoopla found that home owner confidence in the continued growth of UK house prices has fallen to its lowest in 15 months.

A survey of more than 6,700 home owners for Zoopla found that 89 per cent of Scots expect property prices to increase in their area in the next six months, falling from 92 per cent three months ago and marking the lowest proportion since July 2013.

Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics, said consumers' belief that house prices will no longer increase so rapidly could encourage more potential buyers into the market. But he said: "It is unlikely buyers will be willing or able to accommo-date another burst of house price inflation, which suggests we are set for a prolonged period of far more subdued house price gains."

Meanwhile, chartered surveyors are the latest industry professionals to say that the referendum hurt business.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Scotland (RICS) said that in September demand dropped to its lowest level since January 2013 as uncertainty over the vote hit the market.

However, they were also optimistic about house prices, with more surveyors reporting a growth in house price momentum over the last three months.

Sarah Speirs, director of RICS Scotland, said: "The effects of the referendum appeared particularly significant to the housing market during September.

"Looking ahead, we expect to see an increase in supply and demand as the market settles, but with interest rates still at historically low levels and long-term house price expectations positive, households are not under any real economic pressure to sell. Next year, we expect the house price outlook to be far more subdued."

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