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UK house prices leaped on the expiration deadlines for tax breaks

Wednesday, 04 April 2012
U.K. house prices jumped in March as first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax break that expired at the end of the month, mortgage lender Halifax said Wednesday.

It said the average price of a home rose 2.2% in March from February after a 0.4% fall the previous month. Prices fell 0.6% year-on-year in the first quarter, the smallest annual fall since October 2010.

Halifax said the sharp monthly rise may illustrate how the small number of transactions is exaggerating movements in prices. It may also reflect first-time buyers looking to squeeze in at the end of a holiday on the stamp duty tax for properties valued at less than GBP250,000.
"Efforts by first-time buyers to beat the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March have probably increased sales in recent months and may have helped to support prices," said Martin Ellis, Halifax's housing economist.
He said that discounting that factor, house prices appear stable and are likely to hold steady for the rest of the year.

"We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year provided that the U.K. economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening," Ellis said.
News source: Dow Jones News

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