THERE was some potential good news for would-be homeowners this week, with the Office for National Statistics revealing that the rate at which rents in Scotland’s private sector are growing has levelled out while house price growth has started to reverse.

According to the ONS’s latest Index of Private Housing Rental Prices, rents in Scotland increased by 0.9 per cent in the year to July, which was exactly the same rate they rose by in the year to June.

At the same time, the ONS’s UK House Price Index has revealed that house prices in Scotland increased by 1.3% in the year to June, down from 1.5% in the year to May. The average house price now stands at £152,000.

This should be good news for those trying to get a foot on the housing ladder, who have faced paying ever-higher rents while also trying to save for an asset that has remained out of reach because its price has continued to rise.

However, Edwina de Klee, a partner at Garrington Property Finders in Edinburgh, said the benefits will only be felt in certain parts of the country, with some areas seeing prices rise at a far higher rate than the national average while others have seen prices fall.

“At the frothiest end of the market, annual price growth in the best-performing local authority, Stirling, has settled back to a breathless 6.4%,” she said.

“Meanwhile, at the other extreme, South Ayrshire has eclipsed Aberdeen as the market with the dubious honour of having the fastest-falling prices, having clocked a tear-inducing fall of 5.3% over the past year.”

Although she said that means some people have been able to “secure properties at under their home report value in the less competitive areas of Scotland outside the Central Belt,” Ms de Klee said the ongoing uncertainty around the UK’s departure from the EU could continue to drive prices up in already-expensive areas.

“The chaos in Westminster and rising fears over how the Brexit endgame will play out are stunting supply and thus inflating prices,” she said.

It is a view shared by Josef Wasinski, co-founder of shared-ownership business Unmortgage.

“[The ONS] figures won’t ease the struggle for the millions of reluctant renters who are crying out for a realistic route to get onto the property ladder,” he said.

“The sad reality is that the stability of homeownership is a distant dream for millions of hardworking, credit-worthy people.

“When Brexit-related uncertainty’s added to the mix, the future looks bleak for would-be homeowners without either bank or mum and dad or hundreds of thousands of pounds in savings.”

Despite this, Dilpreet Bhagrath of online mortgage broker Trussle, said that those who are able to make the move from renting to home ownership are now “thinking strategically of how best to protect themselves against the ongoing Brexit chaos by locking into decade-long fixed-rate mortgages”.

Although interest rates on 10-year mortgages are typically higher than on products with shorter terms, research from financial information website Moneyfacts has shown that longer-term deals have become increasingly more competitive in recent years.

Indeed, while five years ago there were just 22 10-year fixes on the market, today there are 157 products to choose from.

At the same time, the average rate being charged for those deals has fallen from 5.09% in August 2014 to 3.01% today.

Moneyfacts finance expert Racheal Springall said one of the lowest rates currently on offer comes from Newcastle Building Society, which is charging 2.89% for borrowers looking to buy with a 10% deposit.

However, while she noted that Virgin Money has even launched a 15-year mortgage within the past fortnight, Ms Springall said that as most mortgages come with potentially hefty early-exit fees borrowers should only consider locking themselves into longer-term deals if they are certain they will not have to refinance before their initial term is up.

“Borrowers may well be thinking of different ways to safeguard themselves from potential rate fluctuations in the market, or even for some peace of mind during a period of economic uncertainty,” she said.

“A decade-long fixed-rate mortgage is no doubt a big commitment, so borrowers must feel confident that their circumstances are unlikely to change to avoid the expense of refinancing earlier than expected.

“There is a much larger choice of mortgages within the five-year fixed market and these should ideally be considered as an alternative.”