House prices were growing at their fastest pace in more than a year before the pandemic and lockdown halted market activity, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Its recently published house price index for March reveals that the average house price in the UK increased by 2.1% on a yearly basis, slightly up from the 2% increase reported in February.
England saw a 2.2% increase to £248,000, while Wales and Scotland saw a 1.1% and 1.5% increase, respectively. The average price in Northern Ireland rose by 3.8% to £141,000. The average price of a home in Britain is now £232,000.
Growth during this period was largely driven by a price increase in London, where the average house price increased by 4.7% to £486,000 in March.
This marked the fastest rate of growth in the capital since December 2016. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the improvement in market sentiment in the first two months of 2020 built on a “pick-up” in the market following the General Election.
Due to the fact a house purchase can take six to eight weeks to reach completion, however, the latest figures only reflect the state of the market before the nationwide lockdown in March.
In addition, the UK house price index from the ONS will now be suspended “until further notice”. The index for April, which was due to be released in June, will no longer be published at present.