LONDON (Reuters) - Asking prices for British homes rose by the most in annual terms in nearly six years in early 2022, according to a survey that showed how a severe shortage of properties for sale is keeping up the heat in the housing market.
Property website Rightmove said on Monday that the average price of property put up for sale rose by 0.3% in January, taking the 12-month increase to 7.6%, the highest annual rate of price growth since May 2016.
The number of buyers enquiring about homes was 15% higher than at the same time last year but the number of available homes for sale per estate agency branch sank to a new record low of just 12, Rightmove said.
There were signs of more properties hitting the market as the first working week of 2022 was the busiest start of a year on record for people asking agents to value their homes.
Britain's housing market boomed after the lifting of the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020, helped by a now-expired tax break offered by finance minister Rishi Sunak and longer-lasting demand for bigger properties among people working from home.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove's director of property data, said asking prices were within 1% of last October's record high and were the highest ever recorded for homes typically sought by first-time buyers.
"All of the signs suggest that prices are likely to continue to rise until more choice is available," Bannister said.
(Reporting by William Schomberg; Editing by Timothy Heritage)