At the start of each year it is fashionable for commentators to predict the trend they expect to see in the housing market. Already some agents seem to be suggesting a significant improvement in the market. Of course it depends on what basis you judge a market. Much of the property press seem to be obsessed by the price of residential housing and that if people have to spend more to buy a house in Scotland in 2010 than in 2009 then this is the market “improving”. At Caesar and Howie we do not really subscribe to that view. First and foremost houses are for families to live in not simply investments. We feel the number of successful transactions in the market is a much better indication of the health of the market rather than increasing prices. Consequently, whilst it does seem that the house price falls of the last two years are over – we do not think that the market is showing much sign of returning to good health. Good health for us is many buyers and sellers doing deals and in truth volumes remain very slim compared with the highs of 2007. Register House has not yet published final figures but sales in 2009 will probably come in around 67,000 or so compared with 155,000 in 2007. The cost of Home Reports has clearly chased many sellers away from the market with listings for sale down all over the country since this policy was introduced by the Scottish Government. We cannot see the sentiment of sellers changing much this year, and whilst there is still a strong desire to own property in Scotland, mortgage deals are still generally dependent on good deposits being available – and not all buyers can manage that. So we believe the market will remain subdued in 2010. This means sellers have to be realistic on price, and to be patient, to achieve sales in 2010. Selling your house first before purchasing is the safest course to take – even being prepared to move into temporary accommodation between dates of entry. But buyers who had sold and had. “money in the bank” so to speak were able to press for a good deal buying houses in 2009 and we believe it will be the same this year. We may be coming out of recession but many still fear for their jobs. We think until it is absolutely clear that the economy has turned round and individuals and families become more confident the number of house transactions is likely to stay modest. We doubt if house prices will increase across the board – although there may be the odd “city centre” hot spot. That does not mean that individuals cannot trade successfully in the market. But careful thinking, good professional advice and prudent decision making will be the order of the day to make this market work for you.