Former property hotspots see prices plummet by £50,000

AVERAGE house prices in the sought-after Stockbridge and Comely Bank area have plunged almost £50,000 in the space of a year, it emerged today.

The 18.6 per cent slump is the worst decline of any central area shown in the latest figures from ESPC, although Gorgie/Dalry is not far behind, with the average price of one-bedroom flats dropping 17.9 per cent to 104,418.

The city's suburbs have also been hit but the picture there is more complicated – while the average price of a four-bed detached house has risen 1.6 per cent year-on-year to 417,292, the price of a three-bed semi has plummeted by 19.9 per cent, now standing at 204,782.

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Chief executive of the ESPC Ron Smith said it was too soon to tell whether the suburban figures were a statistical anomaly or whether the three-bedroom market was lagging behind an already plateauing market for four- bedroom houses.

"Rather than focusing on one particular quarter, it is important to consider the trend across the quarters.

"For example, in the first quarter of 2009 we have seen a significant percentage drop for three-bedroom semis in the suburbs. In the previous quarter it was the four-bedroom detached suburban property that was showing the greatest drop. The point to watch out for is whether this particular quarter is an freak occurrence or if this section of the market has seen a significant adjustment in its price," he said.

Mr Smith said Stockbridge and Comely Bank – where the average price of a two-bedroom flat in the first quarter of this year was 206,830, compared to 253,953 last year – could also be demonstrating a delayed drop in prices similar to that already seen in other districts. The area had only a 6.2 per cent drop in the third quarter of 2008 and just 0.8 per cent in the fourth quarter.

Jamie Macnab, head of agency in Scotland for Savills estate agents, said: "From the peak to the trough the falls are going to be something like 20 per cent.

"I think that as soon as everyone accepts that there are falls of about that size in the system the better, and we believe that the worst of the falls are behind us now – we're pretty much near the point that the market has bottomed out.

"We can't say that we're at the bottom yet, but we hope we're pretty close to it. I think significant price rises are still a long way away but I think we'll see an uplift of volumes, which is the most important thing, because people have been pretty much trapped in their houses."

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