January 21, 2019 / 12:39 AM / a month ago

UK house prices make weakest start to year since 2012 - Rightmove

FILE PHOTO: An estate agent board is displayed outside a property in London, Britain July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Asking prices for British property are rising at the slowest pace since 2012 amid ongoing Brexit worries, property website Rightmove said on Monday.

Rightmove’s data suggested a continuation of the weakness in British house prices that intensified in 2018, especially in and around London where fears of economic damage from Brexit made buyers loath to pay more for already-expensive homes.

“Given the current market backdrop and ongoing political turmoil, it’s not surprising that the more challenging conditions in London and nearby regions mean they have had a slower start to the year,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said.

Last week the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said its members had the most negative outlook for house sales over the coming three months since its records began in 1999.

Asking prices on Rightmove, which advertises property for 90 percent of British estate agents, were 0.4 percent higher in the first two weeks of January than a year earlier.

Prices were also 0.4 percent up on December levels, the weakest December to January increase since 2012.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, but Prime Minister Theresa May’s record parliamentary defeat over her plans last week has thrown into doubt the terms, timing and even the certainty of Brexit.

Rightmove said potential buyers were tuning out the political noise and the number of people viewing property on its website in the first half of January was up 5 percent from 2018.

“Mass-market home-movers have a track-record of ignoring the politics and continuing to satisfy their housing needs, and as long as these fundamentals remain in place through this period of uncertainty, the market will keep moving,” Shipside said.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg

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