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UK house prices up again despite tax break deadlines approach


Asking prices for homes in Britain unexpectedly rose in January and early February as buyers kept on looking for properties despite probably being too late to benefit from a soon-to-expire tax incentive, a survey showed on Monday.

Property website Rightmove said the average price of property coming to market increased by 0.5% from a month earlier after falling for three consecutive months.

Prices for Rightmove’s February release were collected between Jan. 10 and Feb. 6.

In the first week of February, visits to Rightmove’s website were up 45% compared with the same period last year and the number of purchases agreed rose by 7%.

But the number of new sellers was down 21%, possibly due to families being distracted by home-schooling during renewed coronavirus lockdowns across the country.

“As well as the current lockdown motivating buyer demand again, the restrictions have also been a factor in limiting new supply, leading to some modest upwards price pressure,” Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said.

“These are strong signs that new buyer demand is not facing a cliff-edge after March 31.”

Last year finance minister Rishi Sunak announced an exemption for a tax on property purchases up to 500,000 pounds ($690,000) which is due to expire on March 31.

Other measures of Britain’s housing market have suggested the boom has started to fade.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said last week that its measure of house price growth slowed more than expected in January while near-term sales expectations, new buyer enquires and agreed sales all fell.