There is no doubt that the prolonged, and ultimately unsuccessful, bid for Scottish independence did have an impact upon not only Scottish businesses but also the Scottish property market. The general pattern for the UK property market is a lull in the summertime and a significant pickup from September onwards. However, the two-year referendum campaign created an uncertain marketplace, put doubt in the minds of investors and ultimately lead to a reduction in not only property sales but also the number of properties available.
However, thankfully over the last few weeks we have seen evidence that the market is recovering and it now appears that the referendum hangover is a thing of the past.
Politicians and real estate
Politics and property markets do not generally mix with many investors sceptical of the ulterior motives which political parties seem to have under the surface. Very often, as we are seeing across the UK at the moment, these ulterior motives can lead to short to medium term boom times as a means of currying favour with voters. However, the situation in Scotland was very different with the SNP ridiculing the country’s role within the UK which effectively brought the property market grinding to a halt.
Despite the fact that the SNP lost the referendum in September they still appear determined to push through yet another referendum in the short to medium term. Investors are seriously concerned about this obsession with independence even though they had initially promised that September’s referendum would be a once in a generation event.
Edinburgh property market picking up
Towards the end of December it became clear that the Edinburgh property market, perhaps the most lucrative in Scotland, was beginning to show signs of recovery. The actual number of sales during December 2014 was ahead of the corresponding period in 2013 but it is perhaps number of properties for sale which has caught the eye of many investors. We saw a significant 20% increase in the number of properties listed for sale across Edinburgh during December compared to October.
These figures suggest that not only is there an increase in confidence but it seems as though there is an increasing demand for Edinburgh property which many believe will follow through to 2015. The UK government as a whole has been very supportive of the UK property market offering a variety of financial incentives although unfortunately in Scotland these were somewhat overlooked during the referendum campaign.
Back to pre-crash levels
While the London real estate market continues to power ahead, well in advance of levels reached prior to the 2008 worldwide economic crash, there are also encouraging signs in the Edinburgh real estate market. Many experts believe that the market as a whole is now at or in some cases exceeding the levels seen back in 2008 which is obviously very encouraging going forward. We can only hope that the political debate regarding independence does not impact upon investor confidence in the short to medium term.
Surely the Scottish government should respect the view of the Scottish people with more than 55% of those who voted in the referendum demanding to retain Scotland’s position in the UK.