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LONDON (Reuters) - The average asking price for a home in England and Wales passed 300,000 pounds for the first time in March, property website Rightmove said on Monday, as buyers rushed to beat a property tax rise which comes into force next month.
Asking prices for homes in London were 11 percent higher than a year earlier, but prices in the capital were flat compared with February with the biggest month-on-month increases in central, south west and north east England.
Demand has grown in recent months as people seeking second homes or properties to rent them out hurry to finish their transactions before a hike in a property tax due to take effect on April 1.
"We've seen a definite surge in house prices at the start of 2016 which...has been exacerbated by investors and second-home buyers rushing to complete their property purchases before the additional 3 per cent stamp duty charge takes effect," Kevin Shaw, national sales director at lettings agents Leaders said.
Overall, the average asking price in England and Wales rose 7.6 percent year-on-year to 303,190 pounds, an increase of 50 percent in a decade, far out-stripping wage growth and leaving many people unable to afford a home.
Despite government attempts to boost housebuilding, Rightmove said demand was continuing to outstrip supply with a lack of newly listed properties in many parts of the country helping to push up prices.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by William Schomberg