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Outlook brighter

Housing market ‘buoyant’ after lockdown slump

For sale boards are back on show as the market picks up (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s property market looks more buoyant as buyers and sellers shrug off lockdown frustration and plan their next move.

New data from Bank of Scotland shows how the number of people moving home plunged by more than a third (37%) in the first half of 2020 as transactions were mothballed.

But the temporary cut in land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT), together with a reopening of the construction sector has seen a surge of new buyers and sellers into the market.

This echoes the latest report from listings firm Rightmove yesterday which reported July as the busiest month across the UK for 10 years.

One agency in the south of England said viewings were up 29% last month compared to June, with physical viewings up 45%, as buyers returned to the market in their droves, keen to take advantage of the Chancellor’s temporary increase in the stamp duty threshold. This was followed in Scotland by Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes’ cut in LBTT.

Countrywide last week said that demand for homes across the UK costing between £500,000 and £750,000 had soared since the tax break was announced.

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Earlier this month, ESPC agents reported exceptionally high levels of property market activity in July.

Graham Blair, Bank of Scotland Mortgages Director, said: “Pent up demand has brightened the housing market outlook once again.

“While uncertainty around the lasting impact of the pandemic remains, at least for now the property market looks more buoyant, with many people planning their next move after months spent at home during lockdown.”   

The outlook is in complete contrast to the first half of the year when only 9,701 people moved house, down 5,809 (37%) compared with the same period in 2019, according to the bank’s Homemover Review. This is the greatest decline since the 2008 banking crisis.

The drop in Scotland is slightly higher than the UK average, which saw a reduction in homemovers of 31% in the first six months of 2020, a difference of 6%.   

Mr Blairs aid:  “Never before have we seen the property market shut down the way lockdown demanded.

“While Scotland saw a more significant drop than anywhere else in the UK, this is likely due to the fact that the easing of restrictions were timed differently across the UK nations, with the Scottish housing market on hold for slightly longer.”



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