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Rightmove predicts UK property market boom after record 2021

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The UK property market
The UK property market is forecast to see robust demand even in the face of 30-year high inflation. Photo: Getty

Rightmove (RMV.L) predicted the UK property market will boom after the busiest year in the site's 21-year history, which saw profits soar.

The property website said it expects transaction levels to return to pre-COVID levels this year, dispelling concerns about a slowdown in the nation's property market.

Rightmove, the UK's largest property site, expects robust demand even in the face of 30-year high inflation, helped by firm home prices in an undersupplied market and the UK scrapping all pandemic measures.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) firm posted a 67% year-on-year (YoY) rise in annual pre-tax profit to £226m ($302.3m) for the year ending 31 December 2021, while revenues surged nearly 50% to £305m.

Full year revenue rose 5% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic figures and it was up 48% compared to 2020 thanks to the discounts handed to estate agents during the pandemic.

"As the market normalises, we expect the number of transactions to return to pre-pandemic levels," Rightmove said in a statement. "We remain alert to the macro environment, but Rightmove is not materially impacted by the property market cycle other than in the most extreme circumstances."

Read more: UK property asking prices jump to record £348k in February

The site reported an operating margin of 74% for the period.

The bulk of the group's revenue comes from agents who pay a fee to list homes on its site.

Rightmove said that the UK online property advertising market will "continue to grow" after average revenue per advertiser (ARPA) soared 53% YoY to £1,189 per month and was up 9% from 2019 levels.

The property site said it scaled back the steep discounts it had offered to agency and new home customers early on in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

It reported a final dividend of 4.8p per share for a total payout for 2021 to 7.8p, up from 4.5p in 2020.

Shares jumped 5.3% in early trading on Friday morning in London.

Shares in the property website rose 5.3% to 648.2p. Graph: Yahoo Finance
Shares in the property website rose 5.3% to 648.2p. Chart: Yahoo Finance UK

The positive outlook on the UK's property market follows separate data from Rightmove which showed that property asking prices rose 9.5% in February compared to last year, with houses coming to the market at a record high.

Read more: Cost of living crisis: Women hit harder by rents than men

Figures showed average asking price increased by 2.3% — or £7,785 — this month to a record of £348,804, the biggest monthly jump in pounds recorded by Rightmove in over twenty years.

Prices are now 9.5% higher than a year ago, the highest annual rate of growth since September 2014.

This new record means that average asking prices have now risen by nearly £40,000 in the two years since the pandemic started, compared to just over £9,000 in the previous two years.

Watch: Will UK house prices ever fall?

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