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LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices have risen further over the past month as sellers seek to take advantage of an extended tax break on property sales, figures from property website Rightmove showed on Monday.
Asking prices for property on Rightmove advertised between April 11 and May 8 were 1.8% higher than a month earlier, when they rose by 2.1%. Compared with March 2020 just before the start of the COVID pandemic, asking prices are 6.7% higher at an average 333,564 pounds ($469,892).
However, the national rise masks big regional differences. Prices in London were just 0.2% higher than a year earlier, while those in Wales had risen by 13.0%, with double-digit rises across much of northern England as well.
"Last year's unexpected mini-boom is rolling on into 2021, with new price and market activity records again defying many predictions," Tim Bannister, Rightmove's Director of Property Data, said.
After an initial slump in transactions during Britain's first coronavirus lockdown in April and May last year, activity and prices have risen sharply. Many richer Britons have sought larger houses better suited to working from home, and the government cut purchase taxes to spur sales.
In March finance minister Rishi Sunak extended the tax break, which will remain in full until the end of June and at a reduced level until the end of September.
Last year saw a surge in demand for housing in rural and suburban areas of southern England, which has now extended to northern areas, Rightmove said.
House prices in London are still almost three times the average price in northern England, but this is the lowest multiple since 2013 when Rightmove started collecting this data.
Rightmove says property advertised on its website accounts for 95% of property advertised for sale in the United Kingdom.
($1 = 0.7099 pounds)
(Reporting by David Milliken)