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Strong start for 2016 property market as sales hike by 24%

Property sales in Midlothian outperformed every other area in Scotland with a 38% rise.

By STV News

Published 16 Mar 2016.

The Scottish property market has seen the highest volume of home sales for January since 2008, in what experts said could be the "tip of the iceberg".

Property transactions were up 24% on the previous year, while England and Wales only saw a 1% rise over the same period.

The average Scottish house price also went up to £171,079, a rise of 0.8% on the month before.

January's increase marked the sixth consecutive month of year-on-year growth in house prices, the latest Your Move/Acadata Scotland house price index reveals.

Over the three months from November to January, all local authority areas saw an increase in housing transactions apart from Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire, where sales numbers fell by 11% and 3% respectively.

The two areas also saw a decline in average house prices compared to 2015.

Christine Campbell, Your Move managing director in Scotland, said: "The surge in Scottish home purchases has been propelled by second-home and buy-to-let buyers eager to avoid paying the 3% Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) surcharge.

"As this tax hike was only announced in December's Scottish Budget, January's surge in sales may only be the tip of the iceberg."

House prices in Edinburgh remained the highest, with the average being £244,132, but the area that saw the biggest increase for the second month in a row was Stirling.

The purchase price in the city rose by £13,920 in January to £205,875.

John Tindale, senior housing analyst for Acadata, said: "This increase was assisted by the sale of two high-value detached homes in January (with both properties being sold at prices in excess of £1 million).

"These homes are both located in secluded countryside, and may well have been an example of sales being brought forward into January to avoid paying the 3% LBTT surcharge on second homes that comes into force in April 2016."

Property sales in Midlothian outperformed every other area, going up 38% over the three months from November compared to the same period a year ago, with flats and terraced house sales accounting for the largest rise.