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UK house prices dip as sellers eye end of tax break - Rightmove

LONDON (Reuters) - Asking prices for British houses edged down in November as sellers sought to offload their properties ahead of the expiry in March of a tax break, according to a survey published on Monday by property website Rightmove.

FILE PHOTO: Rows of houses are seen in High Wycombe, Britain, February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Prices fell by 0.5% in November from October when they jumped by the most in more than four years, Rightmove said.

“Given the ongoing mini-boom, prices might have been expected to rise again this month,” Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said.

“But instead we have a slight dip which could be a result of some new sellers pricing more realistically to have a better chance of agreeing a sale in time to benefit from the stamp duty savings on their onward purchase.”

In July, finance minister Rishi Sunak suspended purchase taxes for homes costing up to 500,000 pounds ($658,000) until the end of March 2021 in an attempt to shore up Britain’s coronavirus-battered economy.

The move helped to stoke a strong recovery in the housing market after the country’s first coronavirus lockdown, and mortgage lender Halifax said house price in October recorded their biggest annual increase since 2016, up 7.5%.

The housing market remains open, despite new, broader restrictions across the United Kingdom.

Rightmove said it saw an initial drop in people using its website after a four-week lockdown was announced for England, but during its first six days demand was up 49% on a year earlier.

Other measures of the housing market have also shown a surge in activity in recent months as people sought bigger properties after their lockdown experiences as well as the tax cut.

Analysts say the market is likely to slow in 2021 when unemployment is forecast to rise sharply.

($1 = 0.7601 pounds)

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken

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