According to official statistics from the National Registers of Scotland (NRS) ‘Households and Dwellings in Scotland 2022’ it’s estimated there are 2.55 million households in the country. Notably, an estimated 36% of households were estimated to be occupied by one person. Interestingly, according to the same source, the trend is increasing for people to live in smaller households or alone.
What’s more, while UK-wide over 20% of people live in flats and maisonettes, it’s striking that over 70% of residents in the Glasgow City Council area (Scotland’s largest city) live in flats. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that flats and apartments – at least in some areas of Scotland – continue to be a popular choice for potential buyers.
Average flat prices
An analysis of data from Registers of Scotland (RoS) suggests flats in Scotland (as a property type) recorded the lowest average price – at £158,241 – but also the second largest share of the residential sales market (27%) over the period 2022-2023.
To put the above in context, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released 16 August 2023, the average house price in Scotland was £189,000 in June 2023. Based on findings by UK House Price Index Scotland (June 2023), the average price for a flat or maisonette property (June 2023) was £129,846 – almost identical (£129,899) to the figure for June 2022.
As mortgage rates are now higher than in recent years and more people feel the squeeze of the cost-of-living crisis, there’s also an argument that flats and apartments may currently be proving appealing to a type of buyer who would otherwise seek a larger (semi-detached / detached) property.
Everyone’s budget differs but it’s notable that the latest statistics (June 2023) indicate the average price paid by a first-time buyerfor any type of property was £151,770 – only differing slightly (by 0.4%) from the average price in May 2023.
While I should emphasise that we shouldn’t put too much weight on statistics, they are a very helpful indicator of changes in the market. Analysis of the latest UK House Price Index (June 2023) data does suggest certain local authority areas that may be worth considering for buyers prioritising finding the lowest buy-in values. Typically, these properties will be a flat or an apartment.
Local authority areas
Across all property types and when comparing annual price change by local authority area (June 2023 with June 2022), the above statistical source highlights that East Ayrshire (£123,253) is currently the area with the lowest average property price. This is followed by North Ayrshire (£123,774), Inverclyde (£127,184), West Dunbartonshire (£130,584) and North Lanarkshire (£137,869). Notably, the average property price in the first three of these local authority areas is lower than the national average price for a flat (£129,846).
However, it’s also significant that according to the same data source, Inverclyde has seen an 8.8% average increase in property price when June 2022 (£116,000) is compared to June 2023. Therefore, in terms of affordability compared to the national average and seeing your flat gain in value, Inverclyde may be an area to watch.
Of course, specific neighbourhoods within a local authority area can see prices differ greatly. For example, in Kilmarnock (East Ayrshire), this year (15 August), the property site Zoopla was looking for offers over £160,000 for a well-appointed 2-bedroom Victorian-era flat. In the same town, a 2-bedroom upper flat was also on the market for offers over £59,000. A one-bedroom ground-floor flat within a Victorian-era building on Fullarton Street in Kilmarnock was offers over £45,000.
At the other end of the spectrum, a comparison of annual average price changes by local authority area (June 2023 with June 2022) highlights that East Lothian has recorded a whopping 16% positive change in property values (£338,000 v’s £291,000). Similarly, in the City of Edinburgh, a 2-bedroom garden flat in the picturesque inner-city suburb of Marchmont can still demand approximately £450,000 to £500,000, maintaining its robust property values
For example, in the trendy Italian Centre area of Glasgow city centre and close to the University of Strathclyde, a stylish one-bedroom top-floor apartment on Cochrane Street was recently marketed for offers over £175,000. Close by on Watson Street, another one-bedroom flat was offers over £110,000. In the Hyndland area of Glasgow’s popular west end, you could easily be looking at over £200,000 for a one-bedroom flat. By contrast, in parts of Govan or further out in Rutherglen you may find a one-bedroom property for circa offers over £75,000.
Consequently, while statistics offer a general picture of the national property landscape, including by property type and local authority, from a buyer’s perspective and in terms of affordability it can pay to have an open mind about your specific location – and particularly within a city.
Andrew MacKenzie is a qualified Chartered Surveyor with over 20 years’ experience within the Scottish Property market. He specialises in all types of residential valuations including Home Reports, Private Valuation reports and Development Appraisals.
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