UK house prices were climbing at the fastest pace in more than two years before the coronavirus pandemic almost brought the market to a standstill, according to Nationwide Building Society.
Values rose 3% from a year earlier in March, and gained 0.8% from February alone, the mortgage lender said. The sample period excludes recent disruption caused by UK’s restrict- -ions to contain the virus, it said.
The report confirms the housing market was enjoying a nascent boom before the pandemic, after Boris Johnson’s election win in December lifted some of the Brexit uncertainty that had dogged the market for years.
But that looks set to change as the outbreak prevents viewings and disrupts moves. The government effectively froze the housing market last week because of coronavirus, urging transactions and mortgage
offers be put on hold.
“Housing market activity is now grinding to a halt,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist. “A lack of transactions will make gauging house price trends difficult in the coming months.” Still, actions taken by authorities will support the market’s recovery, he said.
“These same measures should also help ensure the impact on the housing market will ultimately be much less than would normally be associated with an economic shock of this magnitude,” Gardner said.