Data released by the Scottish authorities last week revealed that the number of houses that were completed in the first quarter of 2012 fell from 4240 to 3772 in the first three months of this year.
The number of private new-build homes coming into the housing supply chain from 2012 to 2013 now stands at 14,629. This is the lowest level seen since the relevant records began in 1997.
Philip Hogg, the chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said the figures demonstrated that Scotland is “mired in a housing crisis”.
He added: “It is estimated that 465,000 new homes are needed in Scotland by 2035 to meet demand. However, the build rate announced today points to a shortfall of around 160,000 by this time. With this equal to the number of people currently already on housing waiting lists, such an outcome would have severe long-term social and economic consequences.
“While the property market in England may appear to have turned a corner as a result of government policies, this is clearly not the case north of the border where much still needs to be done.”
Research has suggested a diminishing supply of homes in Scotland just as first-time buyers appear to be coming back into the market. Quarterly statistics, published by the Council of Mortgage Lenders in the same week, showed that first-time buyer loans increased 33 per cent compared to the same period last year. The number of loans advanced to first-time buyers hit 6500, the highest level seen since mid-2008.
A total of £630m was advanced to first-time buyers in the second quarter of 2013, up 54 per cent compared to the first quarter and an increase of 40 per cent year-on-year.
Iain Malloch, chairman of the CML Scotland, said: “The positive growth in lending to both first-time buyers and home movers has led to a welcome increase in lending for house purchases in Scotland.
“With comparatively lower prices in Scotland than in the UK as a whole, first-time buyers are able to borrow less relative to income. There is clearly value in the Scottish market which provides a great opportunity to get on the housing ladder.”
Gerry Weir, director of Edinburgh-based Cornerstone Mortgage Consultants, said: “The fact is that we are incredibly busy, with a record month in May and June for successful mortgage applications. We are seeing particularly busy periods for higher net borrowers and even though I haven’t seen too many first-time buyers come through our door, we are managing to secure a mortgage for every single person that we’re seeing. The mortgage market in Edinburgh has remained particularly buoyant throughout the past few years.”