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UK house prices were on an upward trajectory before coronavirus hit

Residential property prices increased across the UK by an average of 2.1% in the year to March, up from 2% in February, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. 

Prices in London soared 4.7%, the largest 12-month growth recorded in the capital since December 2016.

In England, house prices were up 2.2% to £248,000 and increased by 1.1% in Wales to £162,000. 

Scottish house prices increased by 1.5% and in Northern Ireland the average house price rose 3.8%.

Neil Cobbold, chief sales officer at PayProp, said: “These figures show that the spread of Covid-19 had a limited impact on the market between February and March, with a monthly house price dip of just 0.1% in England and 0.2% across England and Wales.

“Several regions experienced solid growth between February and March, including the South West, the South East and London. 

“These figures are likely to reflect the ‘Boris bounce’ and increased Brexit certainty, which combined to have a positive impact on the market in the early stages of the year before the pandemic took hold.”

The coronavirus lockdown introduced in late March unsurprisingly brought the UK housing market to a standstill, with experts predicting a significant fall in property prices this year.

Lee Pickett, real estate partner at global legal services business DWF, commented: “With the housing market activity largely grinding to a halt over much of March to mid-May, the property market is stalling, while homeowners and house hunters alike assess the impact of the pandemic, and wait for calmer economic and health conditions before acting. 

“Given the current economic conditions and public safety concerns few homeowners will be putting their property up for sale willingly, most will be doing so out of necessity. They may yet struggle to find a buyer in the current market, even with bargain basement mortgages rates. This may in turn have a positive impact on the rental market, with those who might have otherwise moved into home ownership staying longer in PRS accommodation.” 

But with estate agents starting to reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased, there has been a notable increase in enquiries.

Carter Jonas, for instance, yesterday reported that email internet enquiries are up 116%, telephone enquiries up 72%, and viewing requests up by 40%. 

Lisa Simon, head of residential division at Carter Jonas, said: “Following the lift of certain restrictions for estate agents by the government, Carter Jonas has already begun taking the necessary steps to reopen some of our branches, which are currently open by appointment only, and will begin to carry out viewings and market appraisals if and when required.

“We are pleased to be able to proceed with sales and lettings in a way that is safe for our staff and clients.”

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