Housing market defies gravity with biggest monthly rise in five years

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The Independent Online

Britain's housing market continues to defy gravity, with prices in the past month posting their biggest increase for five years.

The website Rightmove said the average asking price of a UK home rose by 3.6 per cent - or £8,307 - in the four weeks to 7 April, the biggest one-month increase since April 2002. The year-on-year rate of increase rose to 15 per cent, the highest for nearly four years. The average asking price was £236,490.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, said: "Sellers' asking prices provide one of the earliest indicators of which way the market is headed, and while a boost is to be expected around Easter, £8,000 in a month is the largest amount we have ever recorded. Every region saw large increases, with the minimum jump being £3,000."

Mr Shipside said a combination of "unique" factors was boosting the market, and homeowners should not regard the rise as the start of another boom. These included the traditional Easter bounce, a shortage of supply and easy availability of mortgage finance. A one-off "feeding frenzy" as estate agents persuaded sellers to market their properties before the June introduction of Home Information Packs was also driving prices higher, he said.

London asking prices saw gainsof 3.7 per cent in March, the equivalent of £13,000 on a typical property. That took the average to £379,846, up 25 per cent on a year earlier. Rightmove said most homes there were sold just 65 days after the For Sale sign went up.

The survey adds to evidence the housing market is still roaring ahead, despite three interest rate increases since August. A report from Halifax last week said 70 per cent of towns were unaffordable for key public sector workers, and 99 per cent were out of the reach of a typical nurse.