A FISHING port in the north-east of Scotland has seen a 139% rise in house prices over eight years, according to new research.

Fraserburgh, 40 miles north of Aberdeen, is one of five towns on the Aberdeenshire coast to experience a massive increase in the value of homes since 2004.

The average cost of places to live in the area, known locally as the Broch, has increased from £53,641 to £128,418.

Peterhead, which saw a 116% rise, and Macduff, with a 115% increase, have seen the next biggest gains, followed by Cove Bay, just outside Aberdeen, where properties went up 108% and Inverbervie, where prices doubled.

A further 20 coastal towns out of 60 surveyed by Bank of Scotland researchers have recorded price increases of at least 50% since 2004.

Financial experts say the substantial rises in the top- performing towns has pulled up the average house price in Scotland's seaside towns by 45% between 2004 and 2012, topping the 36% increase for the whole of the country.

The most expensive properties are on the eastern coastline, with nine of the 10 most expensive seaside towns located there.

North Berwick is Scotland's most expensive seaside town, with an average house price of £327,518. That is more than ten times the average local income.

St Andrews is the second most expensive, with an average house price of £261,446, followed by Stonehaven, where the cost is £211,413, and Inverbervie, where homes on average cost £202,144.

The study shows a clear east-west divide, with eight of the 10 least expensive seaside towns in western Scotland.

Girvan in South Ayrshire is the cheapest, with an average price of £75,325. All ten least expensive towns have an average price below £100,000.

However, Girvan is also the most affordable seaside town, with average house prices less than two-and-a-half times the local average annual pay. It is followed by Wick and Stranraer.

Danielle Ligertwood moved to Cove Bay six years ago. She is married with a one-year-old son.

The couple paid about £185,000 for the two-bedroom house they moved into two years ago and estimate it is already worth £190,000.

Mrs Ligertwood, 27, said: "I can see why house prices are going up because Cove is a really good place to live with lots of community activities.

"It's good to know that our house is likely to be worth more when we sell it but I worry for people trying to buy houses in the area at the moment.

"It's really difficult to get on the property ladder."

North East MSP Richard Baker, the Labour Party's infrastructure and capital Investment spokesman, welcomed the news on prices but called for the Government to create more affordable housing.

He said: "The increase in house prices in the north-east is a reflection of the strength of the economy here and that this is a very desirable part of Scotland to live in. The north-east regularly tops surveys of the areas with the best quality of life.

"But these statistics mean that for those on lower incomes in our area it is even more difficult to get on the housing ladder, and the Scottish Government needs to do far more to increase the provision of affordable homes and social housing in the north-east."

Nitesh Patel, housing economist at Bank of Scotland, said: "Seaside towns are highly popular places to live in Scotland as they offer a unique lifestyle with a typically high quality of life - A number of seaside towns have recorded substantial house price increases over the past decade, predominately on the east coast. Towns in Aberdeenshire have performed particularly strongly, largely reflecting the strength of the local economy over this period."