Like every other market in the world, the Edinburgh property sales market was heavily impacted by COVID in 2020. We’ve examined some of the data on Edinburgh’s property sales market to help understand what happened in 2020 and get some clues on what 2021 has in store.

Volume of Properties on the Sales Market

By examining the volume of available properties advertised for sale in Edinburgh on Rightmove, we can see that the first 3 months of the year had a consistent level of properties on the market. This represents a steady churn in the market with new properties coming onto the market and selling steadily making the market nicely balanced.

When lockdown started in March, there was a slight drop in the volume of properties on the market as suddenly no new properties could be added to the market. When the property market “re-opened” again at the end of June available stock levels then steadily increased as a backlog of sellers added their properties to the market. There was a sudden influx of buyer activity alongside the increase in properties being listed, but even with this buyer activity the available properties steadily creeped up. 

At the end of the year there was a slight dip in stock levels which is to be expected as many sellers hold off advertising properties for sale until the new year.

Average Time for Properties on the Market

Reviewing the average time for properties on the market in Edinburgh in 2020 (usually covering the time from the property going on the market to the sale completing), the effects of COVID restrictions can be seen more clearly. When lockdown started in March, the average time a property sale took to complete started to climb until it reached a peak of over 150 days in June before dropping rapidly once the sales market reopened for non-essential moves.

By September, the average time a property took to sell had dropped back down to pre-COVID levels and remained there for the rest of the year before creeping upwards slightly in the run up to Christmas in line with the normal annual trend. 


Number of Sales Completed

The most telling metric of the year and the one that best illustrates the effects of lockdown is the number of monthly sales on the Edinburgh market. January to March shows the usual seasonal increase in sales going into the spring followed by a cliff-like drop caused by lockdown. From June to September, the number of sales surged as buyers and sellers returned to the market in their droves before things quietened down over the back end of the year taking the volume of sales back to pre-COVID levels.

Looking Ahead in 2021

At the time of writing, we are in the middle of Scotland’s second national lockdown and we can learn by examining the data from last spring’s lockdown to help predict what might happen next. We expect the volume of properties on the sales market will not change significantly until the lockdown is lifted and, until then, the average time for a property on the market will steadily increase accordingly. It’s like the market is on a short pause.

We know when this lockdown period comes to an end the market will rapidly start to move again. Buyers and sellers will come back in big numbers this spring. Expect stock levels and average selling times to return to pre-COVID levels within 10 weeks of COVID restrictions being eased in Edinburgh and a decent year ahead for property sales transactions in Edinburgh.