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London housing market boosted by end of COVID rules, Rightmove says

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By Reuters
London housing market boosted by end of COVID rules, Rightmove says
London housing market boosted by end of COVID rules, Rightmove says   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

LONDON – Asking prices for British homes posted their fastest annual growth in more than seven years this month, helped by a bounce-back in demand in London ahead of a return to the office for many workers, a survey published on Monday found.

Prices of property coming to market rose by 2.3% from January – the biggest monthly jump in cash terms in at least two decades – and were 9.5% higher than a year ago, the strongest annual rate of growth since September 2014, property website Rightmove said on Monday.

London saw its fastest price growth since 2016 and the biggest jump among all regions in the number of buyers making enquiries ahead of the end of pandemic restrictions, it said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to set out plans on Monday to scrap coronavirus restrictions as part of a “living with COVID” strategy that aims to achieve a faster exit from the pandemic than other major economies.

Prices were also pushed up by the usual mismatch between would-be buyers, which rose by 16%, and the number of properties on the market, up by 11%.

Despite the rising cost of living and interest rates that are also going up, demand for properties was growing ahead of the busy spring season for the housing market, Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said.

Britain’s housing market boomed after the lifting of the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020, propelled by demand for bigger properties among people working from home and a now-expired tax break offered by finance minister Rishi Sunak.

Earlier this month, mortgage lender Nationwide reported the strongest start for the housing market in any year since 2005 but rival lender Halifax said house prices in January rose at their slowest monthly pace since June last year.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said house price growth hit a six-month high last month but momentum in the housing market could soon fade because of the growing cost-of-living squeeze.