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28 February 2017

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‘Looking back, 2016 marked another improving year for the Borders property market with resurgence in activity. The past three years have seen year-on-year improvement in the value of residential properties sold, however last year out-performed the trend in other areas and achieved a standout increase of 12% compared to 2015.

The average price in the region saw a similar jump, with a 13% year-on-year increase taking the average price to £148,391 compared to £131,235 the previous year. As with pre-election polls, property statistics should be read with some caution as the numbers are relatively low and easily skewed by a few large sales - and BSPC member firms have seen some of the larger properties selling, particularly in the final quarter of last year.

Subject to that caveat, sales achieved and market activity have improved across the price range. The mid-range continued to benefit from the LBTT changes and shift to a more gradual scale avoids the black hole that restricted sales over £250,000. The most dramatic effect has been at the starter level up to £145,000, which makes two or three bedroom semis available tax free – and with those buying between £145,000 and £250,000 paying substantially less than before. Increased demand has, of course, meant prices have responded accordingly, so the actual saving may be of little real benefit . . . but it has generated confidence and resulted in much greater take up.

The Borders also appears to have benefited from an increased number of returnees moving back from abroad perhaps in anticipation of the Brexit effect, as well as buyers taking advantage of the lower exchange rate.

Closer to home, BSPC member firms have seen an increase in the trickle-down effect from high prices in the Edinburgh market, with many buyers prepared to cash in and downsize or commute from as far as Hawick and Jedburgh to benefit from lower prices, greater choice and an alternative lifestyle. The Borders Railway and all the publicity surrounding the reopening of the railway line has also enhanced the region’s appeal to city dwellers with improved transport links providing access to Newcastle and Edinburgh within an hour.

The outlook for 2017 is looking equally upbeat, with both prices and activity likely to be maintained at similar levels, although we anticipate increases to be less than achieved in the past year.’

Ronald A Hastings, BSPC Executive Committee

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