HOUSE prices in Scotland are continuing to rise as demand for properties outweighs the numbers coming on to the market, a report has shown.
The number of home hunters was higher than the number of properties up for sale north of the Border for the ninth consecutive month in January, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
At the same time an increasing number of the body's members reported rising property prices, with many now predicting a "spring bounce" as the traditional time for buying and selling draws near.
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During last month, 27% more surveyors reported increases rather than decreases in new instructions, with a balance of 37% more reporting a growth in demand.
The monthly RICS residential market survey found the imbalance in the market has continued to force up the cost of a home, with 38% more surveyors noticing an increase in prices.
Sarah Speirs, director of RICS Scotland, said respondents to the survey expected supply to increase over the next few months.
She said: "Prices are on the up in Scotland and this is driven largely by a lack of properties coming on to the market.
"With a growing number of people now in a position to buy a home, there are simply not enough properties to satisfy demand. The upshot of this is that prices are increasing in many areas.
"However, RICS members do expect an increase in supply in the coming months as the traditional spring bounce begins to take effect."
RICS Scotland is working with the Scottish Housing Commission to address the issue of housing supply and demand in Scotland, she said. The commission is due to publish its findings in April.
The study also highlighted the value of Home Reports to the housing market in Scotland, with more three quarters of chartered surveyors saying it has reduced the need for multiple surveys.
Expectations for the year are positive, with a balance of 49% more surveyors predicting transaction numbers in Scotland to increase over the next three months.
Responding to the survey, Kevin MacDonald, of chartered surveyors Graham and Sibbald in Inverness, said: "Momentum has been maintained during January which is indicative of rising confidence with competitive bids, closing dates and more encouraging prices."
Estate agents said that the report mirrors their own findings, and the green shoots of recovery are now firmly taking root in the property market following years of turmoil brought about by the crash of 2007.
The growing activity in the Scottish market is being fulled by more readily available mortgages, more people looking to nove on and a growth in first time buyers.
Michael Luck, director of Slater Hogg & Howison, said: "A number of house types are in strong demand but there is a challenge in getting quality stock. People either want a property that is in walk-in condition or one which will require upgrading which is reflected in the price.
"What they do not want is somewhere that's selling at the top end of the scale which hasn't been touched in 12 years or so and looks tired and in need of work.
"But now is the time for those looking to move to get into the property market as prices are going to rise and there is strong demand for good quality homes."
Bill Cullen, Chairman of Clyde property, added: "The last five years have given many first time buyers the chance to save up a deposit and we are seeing that people are now coming into the market looking for mid-sized properties rather than one bedroom flats. Activity in the market has come back with a 'thud' and that's good news."