Savings go on show in great Edinburgh property sale

IT IS a January sale with a difference – indicating just how great the plunge in property prices has been in Scotland's capital.

Estate agents have decided the reductions in house prices during the recent downturn have been so dramatic they are worth marketing to show prospective buyers just how much of a saving is up for grabs.

Edinburgh properties will next week be advertised showing the original valuation as well as the current asking price to enable buyers to see for themselves how much the prices have dropped.

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The tactic has never been tried before in Edinburgh and those behind it hope the move will present the property market in a more positive light and attract more people to take the plunge and buy a house. The price drops will be shown in next week's Edinburgh and Leith Property Guide, free in The Scotsman on Wednesdays.

Steve Spence, senior partner of Neilsons solicitors and estate agents, which is involved in the scheme, said the move will show prospective buyers just how good many of the deals available are.

"We came to the conclusion that people scanning the property pages who had not had any previous connection to the property market would not be able to ascertain that there was a substantial discount on what's available," he said.

"So we have gone back through our notes on the properties and shown what the price was when it was originally valued."

Mr Spence said prospective buyers will now see they stand to make savings of up to ten per cent on the original valuation of some properties. He said now was an "exceptionally good time to purchase", particularly because it is expected to be only a matter of time before house prices bottom-out and start rising again.

"Everybody has a different interpretation of how severe the recession has been or is going to be," he said.

"Some say things will start to lift in six months, some say 12 months, and some 18 months, but nobody says it's a permanent situation."

Before long, he believes, there will be a shortage of housing, because builders have stopped constructing new homes, which will push prices back up.

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He said properties had never before been marketed by showing the original valuation next to the current asking price.

"I have been doing this for over 30 years and this is the first time that prices have gone down, so by definition there's no precedent for it," he said.

Neil Harrison, marketing manager for Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre (ESPC), the marketing company, agreed the move was unusual.

"It's a reflection of the fact that there's more of a swing towards a buyers' market and we are seeing more negotiations with prices," he said.

He highlighted that 75 per cent of houses marketed as fixed price are currently selling for below the asking price.

House prices in Edinburgh dropped by more than ten per cent during the last quarter of 2008, according to a survey by ESPC.

The average selling price of a home slumped below 200,000 for the first time since the start of 2007.

The average house price in Edinburgh was 193,354, compared to 215,168 for the equivalent period 12 months previously.