U.K. House Prices Rise in January Despite Buyers Staying Away
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. house prices rose last month, despite weaker activity in the property market amid a third national coronavirus lockdown.
In a survey published Thursday, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said values rose across the country as house hunters found suitable properties in short supply, with London the only region to see prices decline.
Real-estate agents reported continuing demand from people seeking to beat the March 31 expiry of a homebuying tax cut worth as much as 15,000 pounds ($21,000). In general, however, buyers and sellers alike were reluctant to undertake in-person viewings because of high infection rates and homeschooling.
There were declines in new buyer interest and agreed sales, according to the survey.
Agents appeared divided on the outlook, with some saying the easing of lockdown restrictions could release a spring surge. Others suggested the end of the stamp-duty holiday and rising unemployment will deliver a reality check.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will reveal at the budget on March 3 whether the tax break is to be extended.
Lobby groups are also calling for an extension to business rates relief for the companies hardest hit by the pandemic to prevent the loss of thousands more jobs. The British Retail Consortium said lockdowns had cost non-food physical retailers more than 22 billion pounds in lost sales.
Almost a third of retailers have boosted their online advertising in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, according to Barclaycard research, with the average Briton expected to spend 36 pounds on the occasion.
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