British real estate website Rightmove said asking prices for residential property fell in December and early January ahead of the expiry of a tax cut for buyers, but the country’s booming housing market remained busy.
Prices for houses and apartments advertised between Dec. 6 and Jan. 9 were down by 0.9% from the previous month, slowing the annual pace of growth to 3.3% from 6.6% a month earlier, Rightmove said.
But the number of buyers contacting agents was up by 12% and the sales agreed were up by 9% in January so far compared with the same period a year earlier, when the market was also strong after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s December 2019 election victory.
The buyers’ tax break is due to expire on March 31 and Rightmove said the fall in asking prices probably reflected sellers trying to find buyers before then, even if time was now probably too tight to complete deals in time.
Britain’s housing market defied the wider economic slump in 2020 and recovered strongly when the first lockdown was lifted, propelled by the tax cut and demand from buyers seeking bigger properties after being stuck in their homes for weeks.
Other measures of Britain’s housing market have suggested the boom has started to fade.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said last week its gauge of new buyer enquiries fell in December to a seven-month low.