Slight improvent as realism hits home over property prices

Happy New Year or should I say Happy New House, as we get over the festive season and commence the January diets, the thoughts of many turn towards purchasing or leasing a new home, writes Jim Hay.

The property market is always a subject of great interest among the many experts countrywide, but they tend to give a national perspective, especially of the large capital cities, which to a large extent have not been that badly affected by the economic downturn.

That cannot be said of the more rural areas such as the Scottish Borders, which has experienced a slowdown in sales and average sale prices over the last three years. Even within the Borders area itself some towns have performed better than others, notably those closer to Edinburgh and within easier commuting distance.

So what can we expect for 2012 locally? Personally, I think things may improve slightly, in that houses may come to the market quicker and be sold within a shorter timescale. The main reason being that vendors are becoming more realistic with their asking prices and most estate agents are advising their clients to lower their expectations with regards to selling timescales and attaining sale prices above the asking price, in most cases the selling price will be five to ten per cent under the asking price or Home Report value. My mantra over the last few years has always been, if you sell in a low market, you also buy in a low market. You may not make a huge profit on the property you sell but you will not have to pay over the odds for the property you buy – it’s all relevant.

Already this year things are busier than last, which is also due to the mild winter we have had so far as things did not really take off until at least April, the knock-on effect being a very busy November and December compared to previous years. We have seen an influx of new properties coming onto the market in January, these being a real mix of size and style from Victorian mansions to one-bedroom flats.

Looking forward to the rest of 2012, I think we will see an increase in the amount of properties sold with the two-three bedroom terraced or semi-detached styles heading the list with the strongest sales figures. Investor properties up to a value of £70K, but especially the cheaper end and requiring renovating, will again be attractive propositions. At the top end of the market, purchasers shall still be able to get some excellent deals on larger properties, with rural properties attracting higher-than-average sale prices.

So overall a slight improvement on 2011 as far as house sales go; on the rental front, demand will remain high, with many young couples opting to rent rather than buy. We are also finding many of the older generation are selling their large family homes, then deciding to downsize and rent a property instead, great news again for the buy-to-let investor.

For more info: contact Jim Hay Estate Agents on 01450 371345 or at