Business

Housing market 'momentum' continues

Estate agent Image copyright PA
Image caption The housing market has been through a revival recently

Property sales rose sharply in February compared with a year ago, while rental costs started to go up again, figures have suggested.

Sales totalled 84,950 in the month, up from 64,270 in the same month a year earlier, data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) shows.

But, owing to the seasonal slowdown in the market, this was the lowest level since April.

Meanwhile, rents rose 1.6% year-on-year in February, a survey said.

LSL Property Services, which owns Your Move and Reeds Rains, said that rent across England and Wales increased to £743 a month on average.

Budget measures

Activity in the property market has grown in the last year, owing in part to government initiatives to kick-start sales following a moribund few years.

"The momentum of economic growth continues to lift the UK property market and shows little sign of abating," said Peter Rollings, chief executive of Marsh and Parsons estate agents.

"The government seems intent on oiling the cogs of the housing market, facilitating property transactions at all rungs of the ladder."

In the Budget, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed plans to extend the first phase of Help to Buy, which was launched in England last spring, until the end of the decade.

This is aimed at increasing the supply of newly-built homes, with the second phase of the scheme designed to help those with a regular income, but little in savings, to get on the housing ladder.

Yet, in an interview with Radio 5 live's Wake Up to Money, former Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member Adam Posen said the government's Help to Buy scheme was "largely mistaken".

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