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The voice of property - Beverley Brown

Headlines can put us in a pre-festive fankle – but with quality and realism to the fore, things could be wrapped up for Christmas.

As a barometer, statistics produced by Registers Scotland are always useful, even when the news isn’t exactly what homeowners want to hear – as in the latest report, which reveals the average price of a residential property in Scotland during the quarter July to September decreased by 0.2% to £163,091 compared to the same period in 2010.

The important word here is ‘average’. In reality the housing market is made up of many micro-markets, which can be high, low, or flatly going in neither direction. And this is borne out by the regional breakdown of statistics which is more revealing – in Stirling, for instance, average house prices rose by 7.9% from July to September compared to last year, making the average price of a house £196,689, while Inverclyde showed a drop of 9.7% with an average price of £125,026.

Sales volumes showed a similar variance, the total across Scotland decreasing by 3.7% to 20,293 for the quarter compared to the previous year. Within that, East Renfrewshire showed the highest percentage rise in the number of sales – up 8.9% over the same period last year – while the number of sales in Moray fell by 36.5%.

Rettie & Co’s head of research, Dr John Boyle, comments: “Quality properties are more likely to hold their value, particularly in areas that have strong economic growth and cash/equity-rich buyers, eg in and around Edinburgh and Aberdeen. However, some data sets, notably in smaller local authority areas, are skewed by the low level of transactions.”

Boyle adds: “These results are the most authoritative on the performance of the Scottish housing market and they continue to support our view of a market that is slowly adjusting overall, but with huge disparities in performance. Much more focused analysis in local areas is required to provide a fuller understanding of any housing market.”

Rather desirable aria

Leaping out from this week’s round robin of houses for sale is Machrie Mhor in Lenzie, a majestic circa 1910 Edwardian villa seven miles from Glasgow that was once home to Scots tenor Kenneth McKellar.

Bought by the present owners in 1997, it has since been extended and completely upgraded to provide a total floor area of more than 5000 sq ft. No expense has been spared in the fine details of this beautiful five-bedroomed home which, among other things, has fitted furniture by Smallbone of Devizes and bespoke carpentry by local craftsman Douglas Muir. The east wing, which formerly housed a swimming pool, has been reworked to include a home cinema, games room and gymnasium with changing rooms and showers.

The reception hall accommodates a grand piano, which gives an indication of the size of this interior. The drawing room has a bay window and French doors on to a patio, while the formal dining room and breakfast room are linked to the kitchen, which includes polished granite worktops, a cream Aga set in a recess with a hand-painted tiled splashback and overmantel. The grounds have also been carefully planned and fastidiously maintained – electronic gates, manicured lawns, integral double garage and also a detached double garage being a few of the features. Going for a tad more than a song, Savills invites offers over £1.25 million (0141 222 5875/www.savills.com).

Viva detached villa

Tree Tops is a detached villa in Kilsyth with a distinctly Spanish look, owing to its unusual design, which has open archways underneath a first-floor covered terrace. The interior is also very different, starting with a magnificent reception hall with a central staircase dividing left and right to an open gallery landing above. The layout is a reverse from the usual, with the living space on the first floor. At ground level there is an integral garage, hall, cloakroom, study, 28ft games room (with sauna cabin) and a third bedroom with en-suite shower room and dressing room. Upstairs are two en-suite bedrooms (one with Jacuzzi bath and separate shower), a formal dining room, living room and a stunning dining kitchen, the latter with access to a wrap-round covered terrace along two sides of the corner room. Complemented by beautiful gardens and patios at the side and rear, this is a property that has to be visited in person to be appreciated – preferably on a sunny day when you might be able to convince yourself the house is in Marbella.

Slater Hogg & Howison is marketing Tree Tops at a fixed price of £420,000 (0141 772 6488/www.slaterhogg.co.uk).

Christmas list ideas

Looking to still sell and move before Christmas? Bell Ingram’s Oban-based property manager Steven Hornby has posted the following advice on his blog that may help move things along before the festivities start.

Price your property based on what someone will realistically pay and not the sum you need to buy the property you want, or the amount you think you should have. Therein lies disappointment.

Be flexible. Yours will not be the only agenda. Others in the transaction, and in allied transactions, will have their own agendas too. Be reasonable.

Clean, paint, declutter, shine, stage, beautify and equip for all you are worth. Lots of other savvy sellers will be doing the same to attract a good buyer. You don’t want to be left with a bad one just before Christmas.

Remember a house is not just for Christmas. It’s for all year round. It’s for you and your family. If it’s worth buying, it really is worth waiting for.

Finally, if you do make it into a new home by Christmas, say a big ‘thank you’ to your estate agent. In this challenging market he or she will deserve it.

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