Scottish house prices rise twice as fast as in England and Wales

House prices in Scotland have increased by 11.2% in the last 12 months, twice as fast as the 5.6% seen in England and Wales, the latest index shows.

In March alone average property prices in Scotland increased by 5.4% or £9,200 ahead of the new Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) being introduced in April, taking the average price of a home to £178,930.

At the same time completes sales increased 29%, mainly at the top end of the market where the new tax is higher. Indeed, some 36 homes worth £1 million or more were sold, the highest number ever in a single month.

Edinburgh and the surrounding area saw an especially strong surged, with East Lothian prices up 11.8% in one month, the Your Move/Acadata index also shows.

‘In what would have been an unimaginable trend just a year ago, house prices are now rising faster in Scotland than in London,’ said Christine Campbell, regional managing director of Your Move.

She pointed out that part of the surge was due to a short term scramble to avoid the new LBTT which was introduced on 01 April. ‘For the top of the market especially, a pre-deadline rush has boosted the average price paid in March, so the latest surge in prices is unlikely to be sustained to quite the same extent in April under the new regime,’ she explained.
 
But she also pointed out that even before the one-off effect of looming tax changes, Scottish house prices were rising on an annual basis by 6% in February, already on a par with 6.8% south of the border. As prices cool across the rest of Britain, Scotland has seen the opposite trend, with prices accelerating upwards.
 
‘Once the new tax regime has become an established feature of the property market, the effects could be different again. On the face of things, there are clear benefits for those buying a home for less than £254,000 as they will have to pay less tax than under the old system,’ said Campbell.

‘But it remains to be seen if this will be quickly countered by higher prices for these properties, as buyers with a little more buying capacity just bid up the average price for these homes. On the other hand, by far the clearest effect is already for the top of the market. There were a record number of million pound transactions in March as wealthy buyers rush to save thousands before the onset of the new law,’ she explained.