UK buy-to-let landlords drive house prices higher

British property valuers reported a surge of activity yesterday as property investors tried to beat an increase in transaction taxes on rental investments coming into force in April.

Demand for housing remains buoyant, lifted by tight supply, record employment, and cheap mortgage rates, even as the global economic outlook darkens.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said there had been the biggest increase in sales since April 2014 last month, and that 74% of participants in its monthly poll expected buy-to-let investors boost demand before April’s tax rise.

It also reported an increase in the number of homes being offered for sale for only the third time in 18 months, and by the largest margin since August 2013, though this was still too little to keep up with demand.

“With buy-to-let investors rushing to get into the market ahead of the stamp duty hike, the near-term pressure on prices is if anything intensifying,” said RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in November an extra 3% transaction tax would apply to properties purchased to rent from April, as part of efforts to boost home ownership.

British house prices rose by 7.7% in the 12 months to November.


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