Big money house sales plummet in Scotland

9 December 2017, 08:27

estate agent

Scotland has suffered the largest fall in sales of top end properties anywhere in Britain, after deals for homes worth upwards of £1 million fell by more than a third.

In the first six months of 2017, 53 houses in this price tag were sold north of the border - down by 35% from the same period last year.

Across Britain as a whole, sales were down by just 1%, falling from 6,684 to 6,613, research by the Bank of Scotland showed.

The drop in Scotland contrasts with the 55% increase in sales of £1 million properties seen in north west England.

Yorkshire and the Humber experienced a rise of 45% and in the West Midlands there was a 33% jump.

The research looked at figures from the Land Registry covering England and Wales and the Registers of Scotland.

Wales saw sales of £1 million-plus properties fall by 31% - from 13 in the first six months of 2016 to nine in the first half of 2017.

And London, where sales of £1 million-plus homes tend to be concentrated, saw transactions in this bracket drop by 7%, from 4,230 to 3,940.

Edinburgh saw the biggest fall in million-pound homes sales in Scotland, with 19 (38%) fewer deals in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

But the capital accounts for more than half of £1 million property sales in Scotland, with 31 transactions recorded.

Under the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, which replaced Stamp Duty in Scotland, a charge of 12% is applied on sales of homes worth more than £750,000.

According to estate agents, who have criticised the LBTT scheme, this means a £1.2 million house in Scotland would be taxed at £102,350, compared to £63,750 in England.

Carl Warden, senior associate at Bell Ingram estate agents, said last month that the Scottish system had "stunted the performance of the property market for those higher value transactions".

Donald Gateley, Bank of Scotland's head of private banking for Scotland, said: "Whilst sales of million-pound properties across Great Britain have experienced a small dip, this has been more acute in Scotland due to fewer homes in this category.

"There are a number of factors at play here, with uncertainty in the market, interest rates and economic stability all having a bearing on people's appetite to buy and sell high-end properties.

"With the Office for Budget Responsibility revising down forecasts for house prices and housing transactions, we expect this slowing to continue in Scotland into the new year."

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said the Scottish Government's decision to "hike LBTT rates is damaging the whole of Scotland's property market".

The Tory MSP said: "This is just the latest evidence of the mistake the SNP have made on this, and every day they don't lower these rates just makes the situation worse.

"The drop off in sales isn't just hurting homeowners, it is affecting all taxpayers as the projected revenues are down as well.

"Many Scots will be wondering what it will take for the SNP to realise that they've made a terrible error in judgement."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "This report does not reflect the latest official Registers of Scotland (RoS) data which shows that, year-on-year, £1 million sales in Scotland are currently increasing by 6.4%, which is a faster rate of growth than the market below £1 million.

"We have taken a fair approach to taxation with LBTT rates, prioritising support for first-time buyers and assisting people as they progress through the property market."