NEW figures show that Edinburgh has overtaken Glasgow as the hottest property market north of the border with more homes changing hands in the capital than in Scotland's largest city last year.

Official statistics show that during 2013 there were 9412 residential house sales in Edinburgh, an increase of 24%, compared to 8919 in Glasgow.

The data, from Registers of Scotland, will give homeowners grounds for optimism in the property market following signs of recovery in house prices.

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According to the report, all seven cities in Scotland saw substantial increases in the numbers of properties sold last year, while house prices are also on the rise.

The report found that the value of residential property in Scotland is now at its highest for five years and rose by 18% in 2013 to a total market value of £13.2 billion.

Hugh Welsh, Registers of Scotland's head of data, said: "This is further confirmation of increased activity in the Scottish property market, and reinforces the findings of our most recent quarterly house price statistics.

"There's been a lot of activity in the property market across all seven cities, but particularly in the capital where the number of sales increased by 24.9% on the previous year."

Sales in Glasgow rose by 17.2% last year, while those in Aberdeen went up by 18.8% with 4744 homes sold compared to 3992 in 2012. The lowest increase was seen in Dundee, which achieved a 13.9% rise in transactions.

The average house price across Scotland rose by 1.4% to £194,291, although not every city saw gains. The largest percentage fall in price was in Stirling, which had a drop of 4.1% to an average of £144,352.

Overall, the total value of the residential property market in Edinburgh was said to be in excess of £2bn, making it Scotland's most valuable property market.

Total housing stock in Glasgow was estimated to be worth £1.12bn, an increase of more than 15%.

Kirsten Stewart, an associate at Edinburgh estate agent Strutt & Parker, said: "Last year was defin-itely a busier one than 2012 in our Edinburgh office. The market for good flats in the centre of town was almost insatiable and a lot more family homes were sold.

"This is mainly down to supply and demand; people want to invest in Edinburgh again and many of our buyers are from overseas looking for investment property."

Alasdair Mackenzie, of CKD Galbraith's Edinburgh office, added: "Over the last quarter we have seen an increase in business across all our offices in Scotland, in particular Edinburgh where 37% of properties sold were to buyers from outside Edinburgh, with a marked increase in interest from prospective buyers from the south as well as abroad keen to invest in the capital.

"The Edinburgh market is showing encouraging signs with buyer and seller confidence returning as well as the competit-ive closing date system making a real comeback, with two thirds of the sales we have agreed so far this year being at a closing date.

"We are looking forward to an active market."