Nationwide: House price growth slows sharply as impact of COVID-19 begins to hit market

Property values dropped by 1.7% month-on-month in May across the UK according to the latest House Price Index by Nationwide Building Society

Nationwide: House price growth slows sharply as impact of COVID-19 begins to hit market

The drop was the biggest month-on-month decline since February 2009 and pushed the average house price in May down to £218,902.

In April, the average UK house price was £4,013 higher, at £222,915. April’s house price index was a record high in cash terms.

The report also highlighted that over £4,000 was wiped off the average house price last month, marking the biggest monthly fall in property values in 11 years.

Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “In the opening months of 2020, before the pandemic struck the UK, the housing market had been steadily gathering momentum. Activity levels and price growth were edging up thanks to continued robust labour market conditions, low borrowing costs and a more stable political backdrop following the general election.

“But housing market activity has slowed sharply as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus. Indeed, data from HMRC showed that residential property transactions were down 53% in April compared with the same month in 2019.

“Mortgage activity has also declined sharply. Nevertheless, our ability to generate the house price index has not been impacted to date, as sample sizes have remained sufficiently large (and representative) to generate robust results.

“Low transaction levels may still make gauging price trends difficult in the coming months – especially for regional indices, which by their nature have lower sample sizes. The pandemic may impact through several channels.”

He added: “Behavioural changes and social distancing are likely to impact the flow of housing transactions for some time. Our recent market research survey suggested that c12% of the population had put off moving as a result of the lockdown.

“Most viewed the current situation as a temporary pause in the market, with would-be buyers now planning to wait six months on average before looking to enter the market.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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