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Official: House prices started to dip in March

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

The UK House Price Index will now be suspended due to a lack of data during the Covid-19 crisis

Average house prices in the UK fell by 0.2% between February and March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It noted that the average price dipped to £232,000, which is still £5,000 higher than in March 2019, as prices increased by 2.1% over the year.

However, because fewer transactions than usual were available in March, the ONS admitted there may be increased volatility in this month’s estimates.

And it is now going to suspend the House Price Index until further notice while the data is so sparse due to the current crisis.

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Average house prices increased over the year in England to £248,000 (2.2%), Wales to £162,000 (1.1%), Scotland to £152,000 (1.5%) and Northern Ireland to £141,000 (3.8%).

London’s average house prices increased by 4.7% over the year to March 2020 – the largest 12-month growth London has seen since December 2016.

Director of estate agent Barrow and Forrester, James Forrester, said: “Much like dealing with the pandemic itself, we need to approach any and all reporting on property market performance with caution over the next couple of months.

While it provides the most concrete look at the market, these latest figures only show the tip of the iceberg where any lockdown market lethargy is concerned and it will be a few months yet until we know the full story.

“The good news is, of course, that the market is back open for business and although there will be a transitional period, it should help avoid house prices from flatlining.”

Lucy Pendleton, at estate agents James Pendleton, added: “Enquiry levels are off the chart at the moment and we are gradually bringing back more staff. Those who have already returned from being furloughed have been using words like ‘frantic’, which is a great sign.

“Only time will tell how we can convert those enquiries and how that translates into all-important prices for vendors.”