post covid image

3 years on: Looking back at the pandemic property market in March 2020

When conveyancers arrived in March 2020, there were no people to be seen on the streets, the shops were derelict, children were not at school, and the future was uncertain. Crucially, however, the property market had entered a period of unprecedented shutdown.

Here, we look back at the pandemic property market three years on.

The wider market

Estate agents saw a 77% reduction in property sales from the first week in March to the third. They also saw a 51% decrease in daily bookings for property viewings. The situation was worse in the capital, where the virus seemed to have taken a stronghold with agents seeing sales plummet by over 90%.

This is evidenced in the March 2020 dip visible in the below graph:


Police forces in the UK reported cyber criminals actively sending out phishing emails claiming to be sent from the World Health Organisation (WHO) or Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When law firms were increasingly faced with working remotely, it was imperative that all people from partners to administrative support were aware of the dangers, ensuring their firm and client data was protected.

Also, on Wednesday 11th March, the Bank of England announced it had cut the UK base rate from 0.75% to 0.25% as part of an “emergency package of measures” to protect the economy amid the crisis.

Pandemic life as a conveyancer

Throughout these times, conveyancers were constantly told that business must go on and to follow World Health Organisations advice regarding hand hygiene, advice around self-isolation, and to check insurance policies.

In 2020, the Secret High Street Conveyancer said that they felt as though they were living in an “episode of a scientific programme” and found it difficult and isolating talking over the phone, rather than meeting up in person with their clients:

“It is starting to feel quite isolating not to be able to meet them and guide them through their move in the way I would wish to do. It means that I am spending longer on the telephone talking with them, and trying to explain to them what is likely to happen.”

House prices since March 2020

However, 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,” Kinnaird said.

New research, based on data from the Halifax House Price Index, has examined how the rate of house price growth – driven by fundamental shift in buyer demand – has varied for different property types across the country since the start of 2020.

At a national level, average UK house prices grew by +20.4% between January 2020 and December 2022, up by £48,620 (from £237,895 to £286,515). For comparison, in the three years prior (January 2017 to December 2019), average house prices grew by just +7.8%, or £17,158.

Wales saw the strongest house price growth of any UK nation or region over the last three years, rising by +29.3% from £168,101 to £217,328 (+£49,227).

In terms of financial growth, the South East of England saw the biggest jump, up by £69,224 (+21.3%) from £325,448 to £394,672.

The average price for bigger homes has grown at nearly twice the rate than for smaller properties. Five UK regions have seen the average price of detached houses jump by more than £100,000 since the start of the pandemic

By the start of 2021, annual growth for detached homes had jumped to +9.2%. Fuelled further by cuts to Stamp Duty, across the UK, the average price of a detached home rose by +25.9% or £93,345 between the start of 2020 and the end of 2022. This compares to just +8.8% or £28,757 in the three years prior (January 2017 to December 2019).

Kim Kinnaird, Mortgages Director, Halifax, said:

“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.”

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 5,000 other practitioners – sign up to our free newsletter

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.