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UK house prices increase at fastest rate in five years

House prices are rising at their fastest pace in five years after the Treasury’s extended stamp duty holiday prompted a fresh surge in buying last month, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender has said.

The monthly snapshot of the property market from Halifax showed a 1.4% jump in the cost of a home in April – taking the average selling price to a record high of just over £258,000.

The Halifax said almost £20,000 had been added to the average house price since the market came to a standstill during the first coronavirus lockdown in April 2020.

Although the stamp duty relief will be phased out in two stages in June and September, the bank said it expected demand for property to remain strong in the next few months.

“The stamp duty holiday continues to add impetus to an extremely active market, magnifying the current shortage of available homes as buyers aim to take advantage of the government scheme,” said Russell Galley, Halifax’s managing director.

The Halifax survey was the latest piece of evidence of strong demand for homes. HMRC monthly property transactions data showed UK home sales increased in March 2021 to their highest ever level – up a seasonally adjusted 32.2% from February to 191,000.

Meanwhile, the Nationwide building society said house prices rose by 2.1% in April – the highest monthly increase since 2004.

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