House prices have fallen for the first time in five months as annual growth in the property market slowed to its lowest rate since September 2013 - yet another signal the market is losing steam.
The latest figures from Nationwide show house prices fell 0.1 per cent in February compared to a 0.3 per cent rise in January, a figure that had been expected to be replicated in February's numbers, marking a sharper slowdown.
The average cost of a house in the UK fell to £188,446, or by £482 in cash terms.
It's only the third monthly fall in house prices in the last two years.
Annual house price growth came in at 5.7 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent in the previous month showing a continued slowdown in growth.
“The broader economic backdrop has remained supportive of housing market activity," said Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner. "Mortgage rates remain close to all-time lows and consumer confidence remains buoyant thanks to a further steady improvement in labour market conditions. Indeed, the unemployment rate has continued to decline and earnings growth has picked up, particularly in inflation-adjusted terms, thanks in part to the sharp decline in energy prices.
“Nevertheless, the pace of housing market activity remains fairly subdued. There was a small increase in the number of mortgages approved for house purchase in December, up two per cent from 59,000 in November to 60,300 in December, though it remains too early to determine whether this marks a turning point in activity," he added.
The research echoes the findings from the Land Registry which showed prices are rising at a lower rate than last year.