A mixture of 'ambition, optimism and necessity' among sellers has driven a surprise 2.4% jump in asking prices for homes over the past month, according to the property website Rightmove.

The group said that the average asking price rose to £227,441 in May from £222,077 in April, representing the largest percentage rise in May seen in six years.

However the jump, which still leaves asking prices 6.2% down on the year, also reflects the scarcity of property coming onto the market, it added.

The Independent