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UK house price growth hits five-year high in April: Halifax

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Houses are seen painted in various colours in a residential street in London, Britain, May 15, 2019. (Reuters photo)

British house prices increased last month at the fastest annual rate for five years, helped by finance minister Rishi Sunak's extension of tax cut for buyers, mortgage lender Halifax said on Monday.

House prices rose by 8.2 per cent in annual terms in April, Halifax said, the biggest gain since April 2016 and following a 6.5 per cent increase in March.

In April alone, house prices rose by 1.4 per cent - the biggest monthly jump in seven months.

Britain's housing market has boomed since the lifting of a first coronavirus lockdown in the spring of 2020 and was given further impetus by Mr. Sunak's announcement on March 3 that he was extending the cut in stamp duty land tax for buyers.

The first £500,000 (S$933,200) of any property purchase in England or Northern Ireland will remain exempt from stamp duty until the end of June, and there will be a £250,000 tax-free allowance until the end of September.

Mr. Sunak also announced a new government mortgage guarantee scheme to ease deposit constraints for prospective home-buyers.

Last week, the Bank of England reported a record increase in the value of mortgage lending during March, while mortgage lender Nationwide said house prices jumped by 2.1 per cent in April, their biggest monthly rise in more than 17 years.

"We do expect recent levels of activity to be sustained over the short-term as buyers continue to search for homes with more space and potentially better suited for their new working patterns," Halifax managing director Russell Galley said.

However, he stuck to his view that house price growth was likely to fade later this year because of the potential for higher unemployment once Britain's job-protecting furlough programme ends.

(Source: Reuters)


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