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Property prices rise at fastest pace for four years

HOUSE price growth in Scotland has hit a four-year high and is outpacing most areas of the UK as the property market shows further signs of pulling away from the doldrums of recent years.

A new report has found the average cost of a home in June was £164,105, a 5.7 per cent rise on the price for the same month in the previous year.

There was also a 15 per cent increase in the number of property transactions compared to May, with sales 26 per cent above those in June 2013.

However, experts said activity was driven by a "tale of two cities" as one-quarter of all house sales were in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The capital was also the most expensive place to buy a property, with a monthly rise in prices of 4.2 per cent taking the average cost in Edinburgh to £239,659, while a house in Glasgow cost £130,872 after a 4.5 per cent increase.

But the survey of the property market by LSL Property Services and Acadata also found prices in some part of the country dropped in June. A fall in prices was recorded in areas including East Renfrewshire, Fife and Dundee.

Gordon Fowlis, regional ­managing director of Your Move, an estate agency chain that is part of LSL, said the average price rise was the biggest since September 2010.

"This is stronger than the annual rises in the north of England, the Midlands and Wales. While the majority of regions across England and Wales are witnessing price falls, the Scottish market is moving the other way," he said.

"In Aberdeenshire, prices climbed to a new high of £228,802 last month. Overall, average house prices in Scotland are now only 0.9 per cent below their May 2008 peak, and this gap is narrowing. Many households are feeling the weight lift off their shoulders, as consumer confidence in the economic recovery mounts."

But he added: "There are many changes on the horizon to weather. In June, average property prices dipped in half of all the local authority areas across Scotland, as the market attunes to calmer growth. It may be on the track, but the housing recovery still requires careful steering to navigate upcoming obstacles and to ensure that the benefits are felt equally across the country."

Faisal Choudhry, associate director at estate agents Rettie & Co, said the rise in house prices was good news but added he was more happy to see increased activity in the market.

He said: "Transaction numbers have improved, and that's the main thing. We are seeing the strongest market for six or seven years in terms of activity, and that's always good news.

"This has been fuelled by improved mortgage lending, government help-to-buy schemes and better equity among sellers."

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