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Dash for bigger homes pushes up September asking prices, Rightmove says

LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Surging activity in Britain’s housing market nudged up asking prices for homes in September, as buyers sought larger properties following the coronavirus lockdown, a survey showed on Monday.

Property website Rightmove estimated there were almost 40% more sales moving through the pipeline than a year ago, chiming with other surveys that show a post-lockdown surge in the market, helped by a temporary cut in property tax.

Rightmove said asking prices rose 0.2% in September, reversing August’s decline. The national average asking price now stands at 319,996 pounds ($415,642), up 5.0% on a year ago.

Official data based on prices paid at the end of the purchase process showed a 3.4% rise for the year to June.

Prices hit a record high for homes with three or four bedrooms, the survey showed.

“Needing more space has always been the most popular reason for moving house, but now there’s a new urgency for extra space to be able to work from home,” said Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data.

“Buyers (are) competing for the same type of property. At the start of the year a fourth bedroom was very much a luxury for buyers trading up, but it’s now emerging as a must-have for those who are able to take that step.”

But with unemployment set to rise sharply later this year with the closure of the government’s furlough scheme, and the end of a tax break on property purchases in April 2021, the outlook for the housing market next year looks tougher. ($1 = 0.7699 pounds) (Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)

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