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UK house prices climb to record highs as virus threat looms

London

ASKING prices for UK homes rose to a record in March as the market appeared undented by the novel coronavirus outbreak that is threatening economies across the globe.

Values increased 1 per cent on the month to an average of £312,625 (S$546,042), Rightmove said in a report issued on Monday. In London, they gained 1.6 per cent from a month earlier to £638,826. Both gauges posted their biggest annual jump since 2016.

The number of sales also jumped, and Rightmove said it had seen "no sign" so far of any drop in buyer interest or activity, as Britons seek to take advantage of what had been seen as a period of relative stability following the political turmoil caused by Brexit.

The Bank of England's emergency 50 basis point interest-rate cut last week could support demand if it feeds through to lower mortgage rates, it said.

"The market has been waiting for several years for a window of certainty, and 2020 seemed set to be the year when many would look to make a move," said Rightmove director Miles Shipside. "However, the current fast pace of the housing market could now be temporarily affected by the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus." BLOOMBERG