Year in review: 2020 and the property market
2020 was a year like no other – the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown altered daily lives significantly with a significant rise in working from home.
It was also a very unique year for the Scottish property market, from property sales volumes and listings dropping to very low levels in the spring due to lockdown restrictions to a surge in activity in the summer and autumn as a result of pent-up demand.
In this article, we review local property market activity over the course of 2020, and outline some of our thoughts for the year ahead.
- January and February sees relatively strong start to the year for the property market, with more homes coming to market compared to the same period in 2019.
- On 24th March, lockdown restrictions are put in place in the UK.
- On 31st March, the Scottish Government publishes guidance advising against house moves unless reasonably necessary resulting in a significant decline in property sales volume and number of listings.
- In April, evidence of demand to buy and sell remains as agents adapt with virtual viewings and valuations.
- In mid-May, restrictions on the English property market are eased, causing increasing demand from Scottish buyers and sellers, with ESPC web traffic, viewing requests, Home Report downloads and valuation requests rising significantly.
- On 29th June, restrictions on the Scottish property market are eased, resulting in a surge in activity.
- In mid-July, the Scottish Government announced an LBTT holiday and additional investment in the First Home Fund to stimulate the market.
- From July onwards, property market activity is exceptionally high compared to previous year, as pent-up demand is released into the market.
- In the final quarter of the year, activity had calmed compared to very high levels of the summer and autumn months, but remained significantly up year-on-year.
For the whole of 2020, the average selling price of properties in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders was £260,783, up 4.7% compared to 2019. In Edinburgh, the average property selling price was £278,589, up 4% compared to last year.
Last year, the average selling price of properties in the Scottish Borders over 2020 was £245,483, up 11.5% compared to 2019. In West Fife & Kinross, the average property selling price over 2020 was £188,756, up 10.4% compared to the previous year. Properties in Dunfermline saw a 9.6% increase.
In 2020, properties in West Lothian and East Lothian experienced a 6.6% and 5.9% increase in average selling price, respectively. Properties in Midlothian and East Fife experienced a 6.1% and 5.4% increase respectively.
Comparing all of 2020 to 2019, the west of Edinburgh saw the greatest increase in average selling price of any area in the city, rising by 8.1% to £188,850. In 2020, three bedroom houses in Blackhall, Davidsons Mains and Silverknowes saw a 15.9% increase in average selling price compared to 2019.
Over the whole of 2020, the volume of property sales in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders was down 20.1% compared to 2019. The number of homes coming to market was down 5.9%.
These declines were heavily concentrated during the spring lockdown period, during which the Scottish Government advised against house moves unless reasonably necessary. In the latter half of 2020, we saw a 3.5% increase in property sales volume compared to 2019 and there was a significant 44.8% increase in new property listings.
Due to the time it takes for a property to progress from “under offer” to “sold”, it takes longer for the volume of property sales data to catch up with the increase in new listings. In the last couple of months, we have seen significant year-on-year increases in sales volumes, and we expect this to continue in the upcoming months as more sales are completed.
The properties with the greatest volume of sales during 2020 were three bedroom houses in Dunfermline, two bedroom flats in Leith and one bedroom flats in Leith. Dunfermline, Leith and Corstorphine were the areas with the greatest number of properties listed during 2020, with Leith seeing a 21.8% increase year-on-year.
Over the whole of 2020, the average percentage of Home Report valuation achieved was 103.4% in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders, compared to 102.9% in 2019. In Edinburgh, the average percentage of Home Report valuation achieved was 104.4%, the same as in 2019.
During 2020, the median time it took for a property to be placed under offer in Edinburgh, the Lothians, Fife and the Borders was 20 days, which is two days faster than the previous year. In Edinburgh, it was 19 days, one day faster than in 2019.
The median time for a property to be placed under offer in the Borders was 37 days, 57 days faster than in 2019, which is a significant drop.
Three bedroom houses in South Queensferry and Dalmeny boasted a median selling time of 14 days, a week faster than in 2019. One bedroom flats in Dalry, Gorgie, Slateford and Chesser also had a median selling time of 14 days in 2020, one day faster than last year.
Paul Hilton, CEO of ESPC, said: “2020 was a very different year for all of us, and for the Scottish property market. The lockdown restrictions of last spring resulted in the volume of property sales and number of homes coming to market falling to much lower levels than usual for that time of year.
“Pent-up demand to move as a result of the lockdown restrictions, combined with the ‘LBTT holiday’ and additional investment in the First Home Fund resulted in property market activities rising to exceptionally high levels in the second half of 2020, once restrictions had been eased.
“Anecdotal evidence from our agents also suggested that the pandemic has led to people re-evaluating their priorities when it comes to looking for a property, with private gardens and home offices higher on wish lists. The rise in working from home has also led people to consider other locations further away from the office.
“It’s very difficult to predict what the year ahead holds, particularly due to the new lockdown restrictions. The current guidance from the Scottish Government states that house moves and associated activities are permitted, but it may be advisable to postpone if possible.
“Due to the wider lockdown restrictions and home schooling, there may be a dampening in activity over the next few weeks. However, activity in recent months and reports from our agents suggest strong demand to buy and sell remains. Historically, the Scottish property market tends to reach its busiest time around spring.”
Find out more
Thinking of moving home? You can find out how much your home is worth with a free property valuation from an ESPC agent. Plus, keep an eye on the latest houses and flats coming to market by signing up for My ESPC.
You can find out more about Scottish Government guidance for property buyers and sellers on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.
Contact an ESPC solicitor estate agent for the latest insights on the local property market and COVID-19 guidance on house moves, or use our free advice phone service to speak to a property expert.
You may also be interested in...
House Price Report December 2020
In the last quarter of 2020, there was a significant year-on-year increase in both property sales volume and the number of homes coming to market.
2021 Edinburgh property market predictions
Derek Brien, Head of Estate Agency at VMH Solicitors, looks back at 2020 and considers what will happen to the Edinburgh property market in 2021.
Coronavirus COVID-19: Advice for property buyers and sellers in Scotland
We've provided some advice for property buyers, sellers, homeowners, landlords and tenants during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the UK.