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Aberdeen hits a high amid house prices recovery

HOUSE prices in Aberdeen have hit a record high as experts say there is "light at the end of tunnel" in the property market.

Fresh figures show the average price of property in Scotland is only 2.4% (£3900) below its pre-recession peak of April 2008, while the value of the average home has climbed for seven months in a row.

The upsurge has brought a boom to Aberdeen, where the average property price reached a new record of £219,117 in March 2014, an increase of 17.1% on 2013.

The average property in Glasgow is now worth £128,414, 4.1% up on 12 months ago. The value of a home in Edinburgh is up by 3.4% to £230,420, meaning the capital is still Scotland's priciest market.

The Scottish property market is now recovering quicker than some other regions of the UK, with the average price in northern England still 8.1% below its pre-crisis peak.

House-price growth is being driven by easier access to mortgages, a rise in first-time buyers and the Help to Buy scheme, which gives finance to prospective owners to buy new-build homes.

Donald MacLellan of Walker Fraser Steele Chartered Surveyors, said the recovery seen since the end of last year was taking a "strong grip" on the Scottish property market.

He said: "For households all across Scotland, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sustained growth is bedding down across the country, and on an annual basis average property prices have risen in 66% of all areas of Scotland.

"The flagship success story is Aberdeen City, where average house prices reached a new record. The revived confidence at the bottom of the property ladder is rising through the rungs, emboldening home movers."

The highest rise in sales is in family semi-detached homes, with deals for such properties up 28%. Overall, sales in ­Scotland are up one-quarter in the first three months of 2014 compared to the same spell last year.

However, Mr MacLellan sounded a note of caution, with many in the industry anxious about the effect of the independence referendum in September.

House prices are also not rising evenly across Scotland. Mr MacLellan added: "As the independence vote looms on the near horizon and the debates become more ferocious, it will be interesting to note if this has any impact on current trends.

"There are corners of the country where the feel-good factor has yet to be seen. In Midlothian, average house prices have dropped 10.8% annually and two of Scotland's seven cities [Stirling and Perth] suffered monthly house-price falls in March."

Andrew Perratt of estate agent Savills said: "The market is definitely much improved on last year and our transactions have are up by around 20%. We're seeing some price growth, but it would be unfair to say that all prices are back to their pre-crash levels all across the country.

"We are seeing some hotspots, such as the West End of Glasgow and Aberdeen, and that is starting to filter out to other areas."

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