LONDON: British house prices sank last month by the largest amount for more than a decade owing to the coronavirus lockdown, a key survey showed Tuesday. The average value of a home in Britain fell 1.7 percent to £218,902 ($275,000, 246,000 euros) in May from April, home-loans provider Nationwide said in a statement.

That was the largest month-on-month fall for the lender's survey since February 2009, when the UK was hit by the global financial crisis. “In the opening months of 2020, before the pandemic struck the UK, the housing market had been steadily gathering momentum," Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said Tuesday.

“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 (December) general election.

“But housing market activity has slowed sharply as a result of the measures implemented to control the spread of the virus," Gardner added.

Britain's lockdown, imposed on March 23, has gradually eased this week with certain businesses allowed to reopen and some children returning to school.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2020