The average house price in the Highlands increased by almost 4% in the three months to the end of August, compared to figures for the previous quarter, according to the latest statistics released by the Highland Solicitors Property Centre.
However the average price for the three months to August is down 1% on the same period in 2010.
The Highland figures look stronger than recent average prices released for Scotland as a whole. The Lloyds TSB Scotland Scottish house price monitor focussed on the three months to July, but reported that house prices across the country had fallen by 3.7%.
At £169,485 the average Highland house price in August also remains well ahead of the £152,820 Scottish average in the recent Register for Scotland figures for the second quarter of 2011.
While noting the figures as encouraging, HSPC points out that the underlying picture is of a property market showing no sustained trends. Small price fluctuations that have affected the market locally and nationally in recent months, look set to continue.
While some buyers – particularly first-time buyers – are still finding it difficult, or impossible, to obtain a mortgage, others who can afford to purchase are holding back because of concerns about their economic prospects.
What is needed to stimulate the housing market, the HSPC says, is the return of financial confidence and an easing in the availability of mortgages. It is hoped that the proposed Homes for Scotland mortgage indemnity scheme may help by supporting those who can afford a mortgage, but are currently excluded because of the high level of deposit required.
With the number of properties coming on the market continuing to exceed the number of buyers, the choice of houses remains at record levels. Active properties on the HSPC property register during August were up 2% on the previous month and 21% up on August 2010.
For those prepared to make the commitment to buy, this means that property in the Highlands is a buyer’s market, with a record number of properties to choose from at prices that remain keen.
A clear indication of the continuing strong interest in Highland properties comes in the number of enquiries HSPC are receiving on their website at www.hspc.co.uk. With enquiries up 10% in August, compared with the same month last year, it is clear that pent-up demand is growing.