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Amid mixed messages about the current state of the housing market, Nationwide has reported a sharp fall in house prices.
Its latest house price index fell by 1.7 per cent in May, the largest monthly fall since February 2009. As a result, the annual rate of house price growth slowed to 1.8 per cent, down from 3.7 per cent in April.
This put the current average price of a house at just under £219,000, £4,000 down on April.
‘Housing market activity has slowed sharply as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus’, commented Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner.
‘Our recent market research survey suggested that around 12 per cent 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’.
House buyers’ housing preferences may also have been changed by the lockdown, noted Gardner. Around 15 per cent of people surveyed said they were considering moving as a result of life in lockdown, with a third saying they thought differently about their home as result of the Covid-19 outbreak, especially the importance of a garden and the need for more indoor space.
Meanwhile online property companies such as Zoopla have reported a surge in online house searches, with growing demand for rural properties offering additional garden space.