The property market in Scotland had stagnated largely during the referendum campaign, likely due to the uncertainties associated with a possible “yes” vote. A report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) indicated that activity levels in the Scottish housing market slowed down significantly in the weeks running up to the referendum, suggesting that the whole process was causing anxiety for buyers and sellers alike.
Now, Managing Director of the NAEA Mark Hayward said that the market should see a return to growth thanks to the economic stability associated with Scotland’s position as part of the UK: “With the outcome now certain and Scotland voting to remain part of the United Kingdom, we can expect to see some positive movement in the Scottish housing market. It is good news for Scottish estate agents and their customers who can now look forward to a less frenetic housing discussion and market.
“Although the outcome does not necessarily guarantee clarity for the market, the mist of ambiguity will clear much earlier than if the outcome to Scottish independence was Yes. Therefore, there is likely to be a substantial increase in market activity in the coming months, with an increase seen in the volume of sales and investments”.
It is hoped that renewed belief in the housing market will help to ensure the continued prosperity of Scotland’s major cities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, thus having a knock-on effect on the strength of Scotland as a whole.
Ran Morgan, Head of Knight Frank Scotland, said, “We expect we will be very busy in the coming months as vendors and buyers, many of whom have put off making a decision to buy or sell a property in Scotland due to the referendum, return to the market [….] Our forecast is that prime values will rise by 3% by the end of this year and by a further 3% to 6% in 2015”.
There are some fears, however, that debates over the promise of greater devolution of powers to Scotland might continue to have an effect on the wider economy, including the housing market. Westminster and Holyrood need to make quick decisions about the future relationship between the two governments in order to avoid adverse effects on Scotland, and the UK as a whole.
Mr Morgan continued, “Given the importance of property investment and development in the Scottish economy, we look forward to working with Scottish government during the transfer of powers”.
This question of the dividing of powers comes, though, as an anonymous UK Government minister has told the press that it could take three years for further devolution to occur. This is because the plans will have to be introduced in the first Queen’s Speech following the General Election in 2015, before being debated in the Houses of Commons and Lords.
Nonetheless, the Pound Sterling reached a two-year high against the Euro and a two-week high against the US dollar on the day the referendum results were announced, and the FTSE 100 index advanced in early trading, indicating that traders love stability – which can only be a good thing both for the housing market and for Scotland overall.
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