Scotland's housing market remains 'muted', says bank report

Homes covered in snow
Image caption A small number of sales were experienced during the festive period

Scotland's housing market remains "muted", with only a slight rise in prices over the last year, according to a report from Lloyds TSB Scotland.

The average price of a property rose by 0.2% to £151,320 during 2012.

But the number of sales fell towards the end of the year because of a small number of festive-period sales.

The TSB's Donald MacRae said: "The Scottish housing market had adjusted to the recession with a halving of sales and a period of price volatility."

Lloyds TSB Scotland's report also found that the Scottish House Price Monitor, a quarterly index of average house prices adjusted for location, property type and season, fell from 290 to 287 between November 2012 and January this year.

The index is measured from a base rate of 100 when it was first recorded in 1996.

"There is evidence of a muted pick-up in the number of houses bought and sold in the last quarter of 2012, with average prices now at 89% of their pre-recession peak," said Mr MacRae.

'Negative territory'

The report, compiled from business done by the the bank itself, said buyers' confidence has also dipped as many see house price inflation rising above their earnings.

"Consumer confidence turned negative at the beginning of 2011 and remained negative for 21 of the 24 months to the end of 2012," added Mr MacRae.

"The latest figure for quarter four 2012 shows a return to negative territory.

"Consumer confidence remains low, with the level of retail price inflation exceeding the average increase in earnings squeezing disposable income.

"The rate of increase in consumer spending remains modest."

Mr MacRae believes there could be a "modest pick-up" in housing market activity if mortgages are made more available and prices remain at their current levels.

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