Asking prices for UK houses rise again

Asking prices for UK houses rise again

FILE PHOTO: New houses under construction are pictured in Aylesbury, Britain August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Growth in asking prices for homes in Britain was accelerating even before finance minister Rishi Sunak announced new measures to bolster the market, property website Rightmove said on Monday.

Asking prices rose by 0.8% in the four weeks to March 6 following a 0.5% increase in the previous four-week period, according to the survey of homes of properties put on sale by estate agents.

On March 3 Sunak extended a temporary tax break for buyers and announced a new mortgage guarantee scheme for first-time buyers who cannot afford large deposits.

The tax break was introduced last year to counter the coronavirus hit to Britain’s economy and, along with demand for bigger homes caused by the experience of lockdown for many families, it helped spur a mini-boom in the housing market.

Rightmove’s findings contrasted with other surveys that are based on selling prices of homes and which mostly showed a slowdown in house price inflation ahead of the original March 31 expiry date of the tax cut.

“Concerns of a cliff edge for the housing market at the end of March have dissipated, partly due to the tax deadline extensions in all of the UK bar Scotland, but also because the already high level of buyer demand caused by the lockdowns has continued to surge since the start of the year,” said Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove.

The number of buyers enquiring about each property for sale on its website hit a new record, which Bannister attributed to a “serious shortage of homes available for sale”.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg

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