Estate agents show confidence as report reveals house price slump

LOCAL estate agents are buoyant about the future despite figures showing the Borders suffered the biggest slump in house prices of any area of the UK over the past year.

According to research from the Nationwide Building Society, the value of properties in Ayrshire and the Borders plummeted by eight per cent in 2012.

However, although house prices continue to struggle to reach the heights of a few years ago, the local market remains busy.

Jim Hay, of Jim Hay Estate Agents, revealed he sold more properties last year than the year before. He told the Hawick News: “It’s not a slump, prices have just come back into line and it’s more realistic.

“You couldn’t go on the way we were before when, overnight, people turned into property developers.

“You need to take away the casual investor who is trying to make a quick buck because the profit isn’t there. There are still people out there looking to buy and sell houses and there always will be.”

Those sentiments were echoed by fellow High Street estate agents Bannerman Burke, who are also optimistic about the year ahead.

Dee Elliot, property manager, said: “In 2012 we sold 50 per cent more than we did in 2011 and the signs are that things are improving. The banks are lending more and there are more first time buyers.

“The buy-to-let market is creeping back up. It won’t be as good as what it was, but slowly and surely it’s getting back.”

And solicitor and estate agent John Oliver, from Geo & James Oliver, said signs looked promising already, less than two weeks into the new year.

“Properties are selling generally for less than the home report valuations, perhaps ten or 15 per cent in some cases,” he said. “And they may be difficult to sell but they’re still selling.Hopefully with interest rates being low and banks being more inclined to lend, that should help the market.

“So far this year we’ve seen quite a bit of activity, even though it’s just the first week since coming back.”