(Reuters) - Rightmove, which runs Britain's largest online real estate portal, on Friday said it expected continued robust market activity this year, ahead of a potential extension of tax break and reinstated dividend payment. House building has been a bright spot for Britain's economy as buyers have taken advantage of low interest rates and the temporary tax break, while appetite for bigger homes suitable for remote working has also driven demand. Britain is set to extend the stamp duty holiday by three months to June 30, local media reported, a move that could additionally support the housing sector after Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week unveiled a phased exit plan from coronavirus lockdowns.
"The UK housing market has, for the most part, shaken off pandemic-related challenges to forge an optimistic start to 2021", the company said. It added it was likely that the current shortage of new listings will correct once the immediate lockdown is lifted and will have no lasting impact on estate agency branch numbers. Rightmove, which had to offer a 75% discount to agency and new home customers during the April-July period in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, said that annual Average Revenue Per Advertiser (ARPA) fell 28% to 778 pounds per month.
The FTSE-100 company, which operates the popular portal that helps take the pulse of the UK property market, declared a final dividend of 4.5 pence per share, while annual operating profit slumped 37% to 135.1 million pounds (£188.26 million) for the year ended Dec.
(£1 = 0.7176 pounds)
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)