By Alasdair Seaton
In March this year, while the gales were still howling, I wrote about planting my annual crop of potatoes, and speculated about whether my green shoots would be matched by signs of growth in the property market and the wider economy.
Well my Maris Pipers have flowered magnificently and the spuds from the first shaws are gracing my table, lathered in butter, in the full and comforting satisfaction of effort well rewarded.
But what of the world outside my garden? Have the green shoots in the market fulfilled their promise?
It pleases me to report that not only have they germinated successfully, they are blossoming into burgeoning good health, with the prospect of energy being stored in the prospect of further healthy harvests.
Any sensible gardener always continues to keep a wary eye out for the weather, of course, and – goodness knows – property professionals have become necessarily sceptical about false dawns. But some of the indicators are so encouraging that there is a thoroughly unseasonal crop of optimism.
The Registers of Scotland, for instance, reports that the total volume of sales across Scotland has increased by 8.1% compared to the same period one year ago. This has been consistent with the previous two quarters, with figures now showing a gradual sales volume increase over the previous nine months. Flats showed the biggest increase in sales volumes, by 16.5%,
Though average prices have decreased marginally, some areas in Scotland are experiencing price increases. In particular, Aberdeenshire is performing well, with an average price of £215,589, a 5.6% rise from the same period a year ago. East Renfrewshire recorded the highest percentage price rise of 6.2%.
In general, sales are above asking price and more properties are going to closing dates. Some 34520 transactions have been recorded in the first six months of the year.
Across the UK, Britain’s home loans business has been described as ‘exploding’ by experts following a substantial rise in the number of mortgage offers available and easier borrowing.
Home loan lending by building societies and other mutuals was £3.5 billion in June and £18 billion in the first half of the year, up by 28% compared to £14 billion in the first half of 2012. And a total of 165,800 mortgages were approved in the first half of the year, up 17% compared to the 141,200 in the same period for 2012.
In Scotland, government statistics showed that sales volumes on the High Streets increased in the second quarter of the year, up by 2.4% on the same period last year. In the UK as a whole, sales were up by 1.7% and the value increased by 3.2%.
These figures are as tasty as my potatoes and I am sure my fellow property professionals will be hoping that this could be the end of the famine.