House prices in March remained largely stable before the pandemic accelerated, according to the latest House Price Index from Halifax.
Before the full effects of coronavirus were felt in the sector, house prices remained flat on a monthly basis at 0.0% between February and March.
On an annual level, prices rose by 3%, and prices were 2.1% higher on a quarterly basis between January and March.
Halifax said that despite these figures, the month has ended “in very different territory” in light of the ongoing pandemic.
It added that with viewings cancelled, and movers encouraged to put transactions on hold, activity “will inevitably fall sharply in the coming months”.
With less data available as a result, calculating average house prices is “likely to become more challenging in the short-term”, said the group.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “The UK housing market began March with similar trends to previous months, as key market indicators showed a sustained level of buyer and seller activity.
“However, it’s clear we ended the month in very different territory as a result of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
He added: “On a practical level, most market activity has been paused, with the public rightly following advice to stay at home, and estate agencies, surveyors and conveyancers temporarily closing as a result.
“While there is very significant uncertainty at the moment, much will depend on the length of time it takes for restrictions to be lifted, the pressure that has been exerted on the economy in the meantime and the effect this has on consumer sentiment.”
Founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short, said: “Our first glimpse at any Coronavirus related impact on the market seems pretty clear as monthly price growth ground to a halt in March, despite the pandemic only really taking hold in the final week.
“While still up notably compared to the Brexit blighted market conditions of last year, a sudden freeze in market activity of this proportion will start to impact price growth notably as the months go on.”
He added: “The silver lining, at least, is that home buyer and seller sentiment remains strong and the resilience of the UK property market should bring a swift recovery once normality does finally return.”