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UPDATE 2-Rush for bigger homes boosts Swedish online listings firm Hemnet

* Net sales 142.5 mln crowns vs 115.3 mln last year

* Sees Q2 sales above target range of 15-20%

* High demand for houses and a low supply - CEO

* Shares up 3% (Adds comments from CEO interview)

STOCKHOLM, May 31 (Reuters) - Swedish online property listings firm Hemnet posted a 24% jump in quarterly sales in its first earnings report since going public, helped by demand for large apartments and houses with gardens as Swedes seek more space for home-working and leisure.

Net sales for first quarter rose to 142.5 million crowns ($17.15 million) from 115.3 million a year earlier.

Hemnet also sees second-quarter sales rising above the group’s financial target range of 15-20% year-on-year.

“We see a high demand for houses and a low supply,” CEO Cecilia Beck-Friis said in an interview. “The demand for larger apartments or houses has increased as people want to have an extra room where they can work from home, for example, or they want to have a garden.”

Swedish house prices surged in 2020 and a recent report by Nordea forecast a further 9% growth in 2021.

A growing number of sellers are also choosing to upgrade their listings, contributing to growth in average revenue per listing for Hemnet.

“When you sell your home, it’s probably the most important transaction in your life, and you really want to ensure that you get the maximum exposure and interest in your home,” Beck-Friis said.

However, the number of published listings on Hemnet’s website fell to 44,000 in the first quarter from 46,800 a year earlier, the company said.

Beck-Friis said there were more sellers in March last year as people fearing a possible lockdown rushed to get their property listed for sale.

Founded in 1998, Hemnet was acquired by General Atlantic and Sprints Capital in 2016 and is now Sweden’s largest housing portal.

The company’s shares, which have nearly doubled in value since listing on Nasdaq Stockholm last month, were up 3% in early trade.

$1 = 8.3107 Swedish crowns Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee. Editing by Simon Johnson and Mark Potter

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