Annual house price growth rose to 3.7% in April 2020, up from 3% in March, Nationwide’s House Price Index has found.
Monthly prices rose by 0.7% to £222,915, as Nationwide said the impact of the pandemic is not fully captured by the data.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “In the opening months of 2020, before the pandemic struck the UK, the housing market had been steadily gathering momentum. Activity levels and price growth were edging up thanks to continued robust labour market conditions, low borrowing costs and a more stable political backdrop following the general election.
“But housing market activity is now grinding to a halt as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus, and where the government has recommended not entering into housing transactions during this period.”
He added: “The medium-term outlook for the housing market is also highly uncertain, where much will depend on the performance of the wider economy.
“Economic activity is set to contract significantly in the near term as a direct result of the necessary measures adopted to suppress the spread of the virus.
“But the raft of policies adopted to support the economy, including to protect businesses and jobs, to support peoples’ incomes and keep borrowing costs down, should set the stage for a rebound once the shock passes, and help limit long-term damage to the economy.
“These same measures should also help ensure the impact on the housing market will ultimately be much less than would normally be associated with an economic shock of this magnitude.”
Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Nationwide portrays a confident housing market with the fastest rate of growth in prices since February 2017. Of course, lockdown will affect sales and prices, but that is the reason – people are locked down, surveyors cannot value properties and would-be buyers can’t view them.
“There is still huge demand for property and buyers are confident about the market, which wasn’t the case in 2008. Then, the financial system was devastated; this time, lending isn’t an issue and banks remain keen to lend.
“There will be the inevitable slowdown of transactions but once lockdown has been lifted, huge pent-up demand which should take the marker back up.”
Miles Robinson, Head of Mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “The Land Registry data released this week shows that property sales collapsed by 40% during March, which is perhaps a more representative picture of how the Coronavirus is beginning to affect the housing market.
“However, we have seen lenders that had previously hiked LTV thresholds at the beginning of lockdown begin to loosen restrictions and, with the COVID-19 exit plan due to be published next week, we could see the market start to shift back into action.”