CONFIDENCE is growing in the Scottish property market, with one-third of people asked in a new survey predicting prices will rise over the next year.

Research by the Bank of Scotland has revealed positive sentiment has more than doubled since the beginning of 2012, and a healthy majority of house hunters think now is a good time to buy.

Earlier this month it was revealed strong sales in Edinburgh and the north-east have fuelled a 1.1% rise in the average Scottish house price and that key public-sector workers are finally finding homes more affordable thanks to the house price bubble deflating and low interest rates.

Now one in three (33%) people asked predict house prices will rise over the next year, while 23% say they will fall, according to the Bank of Scotland Housing Market Confidence tracker.

That 10% difference in what's known as the house price out-look balance is more than double the January figure of 4%. Estate agents said the findings confirmed their experience.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of people quizzed said they think it is currently a good time to buy property, while only 15% believe it is a good time to sell.

John Davidson, a partner with Corum estate agents, said: "I'm delighted to see positive survey results confirm what we've been seeing in our business. Last year, we had the best December we've had in nine years. Since then, we've seen a stable market and it's been a sustainable period of stability, whereas there has been volatility over the last 18 months. This is giving buyers confidence. We are seeing a more realistic market; it's a good period to buy."

Faisal Choudhry, head of Scottish research at Savill's, described as "very hopeful" the finding that two-thirds thought it was a good time to buy.

However, he warned: "People want to buy but their demand is being curtailed by a reduction in mortgage lending. We need lenders to do their bit."

Mortgage lending in Scotland fell 7% in 2011 compared to 2010, he said.

While residential transactions in Scotland were up 12% in January and February 2012 compared to the same two months last year, they were rising from a low base caused by weather problems last winter.

Tony Perriam, of Rettie, said the firm had experienced a "material difference" in sentiment, particularly in central Edinburgh and the west end of Glasgow in the last three months. He added: "Do we see prices rising? Not markedly; we see stability, but we don't see price falls happening this year."

The Bank of Scotland survey found housing market confidence in Scotland was significantly lower than the UK average of 19%, with only those living in the north-east of England less optimistic about house price rises.

The main worry facing potential buyers was thought to be uncertainty about job security, identified by 55%, followed by the challenge of raising a deposit, cited by 42%, and the general availability of mortgages (30%).

Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Bank of Scotland, said: "We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year, provided the Scotland and UK economies do not suffer a pronounced weakening."

The news came as it emerged prime properties – the top quarter of the market by value – have increased in value by £86,785 on average since December 2007.