Pandemic led to ‘fundamental shift’ in housing market: HPI  

Pandemic led to ‘fundamental shift’ in housing market: HPI  

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The pandemic “transformed the UK’s property market almost overnight” pushing average prices up by over 20%, while driving “a fundamental shift in buyer demand” across property types since the start of 2020, says the Halifax House Price Index.  

The study points out the housing market was “largely shutdown” following the first lockdown in March 2020, but surged a few months later following easing restrictions and a stamp duty holiday in July.  

Across the country, the long-term effect was to see average house prices jump by 20.4% between January 2020 and December 2022 to £286,515.  

By comparison, in the three years prior — January 2017 to December 2019 — average house prices lifted by just 7.8%.  

Wales saw the strongest house price growth of any UK nation or region over the last three years, rising by 29.3% to £217,328.   

In cash terms, the Southeast of England saw the biggest increase, lifting by £69,224, or 21.3%, to £394,672.  

The health crisis also stoked demand for larger homes, as buyers realised that rising homeworking meant they did not have to live as close to their offices.  

The average price of a detached home jumped by 25.9%, or £93,345, between the start of 2020 and the end of 2022, the survey says. This compares to just 8.8% in the three years prior.  

“This was driven by a number of factors, but foremost was the ‘race for space’, as prospective buyers sought bigger properties, often in more rural areas, says the report. “This was in response to the radical changes to people’s lifestyles and working habits brought about by lockdown.”  

In cash terms, five UK regions – Eastern England, Greater London, South East, South West and West Midlands – saw the average price of a detached property jump by more than £100,000.  

By contrast, demand for smaller properties in more urban areas eased during the pandemic, with this shift most acute in London.  

Across the country, the average price of a flat lifted by 13.3% between the start of 2020 and the end of 2022.  

But the capital saw the average price of a flat grow by just 3.8%, the weakest price rise of any property type across all regions and nations over the last three years.  

Semi-detached and terraced houses saw their average value increase by 23.1% and 21.1%, respectively, over the last three years.  

In terms of the strongest rate of growth since the start of 2020 for semi-detached houses this came in the South West, up by 30.8%, followed by Wales, up by 28.4%. For terraced homes, it was the North East, 32.1% higher, and then the North West of England, which rose by 29.8%.  

Halifax mortgages director says Kim Kinnaird: “The pandemic transformed the shape of the UK property market, and while some of those effects have faded over time, it’s important we don’t lose sight of the huge step change seen in average house prices.  

“Heightened demand created a much higher entry point for bigger properties right across the country, and that impact is still being felt today by both buyers and sellers, despite the market starting to slow overall.  

“Taking detached houses as an example, average prices remain some 25% higher than at the start of 2020.   

“Even if those values were to fall by 10%, they would still be around £50,000 more expensive than before the pandemic.”  

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