In Caithness and Sutherland, specifically, there is no question about it. Prices are dropping – and quite steeply. The statistics for the Highland region, as a whole, are a drop of 4.4% but that, of course, includes Inverness which always seems to do rather better than the rest of the Highlands.
There was a logjam over the last 3 to 4 years whilst people waited to see what was happening but now they realise that times are not going to get better quickly, they are biting the bullet and selling.
Of course, whilst you may have to accept a lower price for your own property, there are also plenty of bargains out there for when you go on and buy. For most people, the absolute price is not a major issue although this is not, sadly, true if you bought at the top of the market.
What is important is that the market is starting to move. I have certainly had more sales this year than last. Interestingly, that is contrary to the national picture exhibited by the Registers of Scotland, who indicated that the numbers of houses being sold dropped by 2.1% although, in the last quarter in the Highlands, there was a rise of 10.8% in sales. My experience may be an issue of market share within Caithness and Sutherland.
As regards mortgages, the Building Societies Association reports that lending was up 10% compared to the same month last year and the Council of Mortgage Lenders, who represent Banks indicated that house purchase lending was up 9.1% although there was a considerable decline in the remortgage lending.
Dry statistics? I do not think so! They tell you the truth about what is really going on and it is all pretty positive stuff. I told you the bad news during the bad times and it has been a pleasure to report positive developments during this year.
Who is looking? At the moment, it seems to be virtually all internal to Caithness and Sutherland although there are some bargain hunters from outwith. We have buy to let purchasers but also, happily, we continue, this year, to have the person who has managed to sell and is looking to upgrade! One exciting development was a holiday home buyer. They have been absent for 3 or 4 years and I hope that this is a “green shoot” which will lead to growth in that market which was, previously, an important one.
It is certainly a very good time to be a buyer and, particularly in this area where prices are so low, a first-time buyer.
Bruce de Wert
My property website can be seen at www.Georgesonsproperty.co.uk