By Alasdair Seaton
In a miserable March this year, as winter stubbornly refused to go away, I planted my annual crop of potatoes – more in hope than expectation. The ground was cold, the sky was grey and spring sunshine seemed a distant memory.
However, as I looked out this morning, a watery May sun was lighting on the first of the early shaws. They were poking optimistically through the earth and uncurling their dark green leaves with a tantalising promise of bounty to come.
I am well aware that it would be a hostage to fortune to suggest a parallel between the green shoots in my vegetable garden and the small stirrings of activity in the property market and the wider economy. Politicians who are bold enough to predict better times ahead are routinely mocked and pilloried.
But as May warms up, there are definitely signs that the housing market, which was as moribund as my veg beds in March, is shrugging off the torpor of recent years.
Locally, estate agents are reporting more activity in April than since April 2008, when the whole shaky edifice of the world’s financial institutions came tumbling down. Sales are above asking price and properties are going to closing dates.
Housing apart, a number of other reports suggest Scotland’s economy is showing signs of recovery. Stephen Hester at RBS said the return of the bank to normality should be “substantially complete as we go through the next year” and Bank of Scotland recorded a rise in business activity and employment in April.