Rightmove , the country's most visited property website, posted 40 percent higher first-half profit, beating analysts' expectations, as more homebuyers and sellers used its site to navigate what remains a challenging market.

The company reported underlying operating profit of 27.9 million pounds on 26 percent higher revenue of 42.3 million pounds, helped by estate agent customers spending more on additional advertising.

Traffic on its site rose 22 percent to 3.9 billion page impressions, with March being its highest month ever and April recording its busiest day, Rightmove said on Friday. The company said trading in July and August was in line with the first half, giving it confidence that revenue would continue to rise, despite an uncertain outlook for the housing market.

Rightmove said earlier this month that house prices were falling 1.7 percent month-on-month in England and Wales.

We do not believe that such an outlook need be materially affected by flat or modest falls in house prices, provided that transaction volumes do not take a sharp downward turn and cause our customers to cease trading, the company said.

Analysts were expecting underlying operating profit of 25.9 million pounds on revenue of 41.0 million pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey of three brokers

(Reporting by Paul Sandle, Editing by Mark Potter)