UK property prices have risen at their lowest-ever rate for February, according to data from the property website Rightmove.
Average asking prices for residential homes rose just £14 between January and February this year.
But the picture was mixed across the country, with prices rising and falling in different regions.
The average increase – effectively zero in percentage terms – is the smallest February rise ever recorded by Rightmove.
Months immediately after Christmas typically see big seasonal price increases, with more people buying and selling homes.
But average prices were still nearly 4% higher compared to a year earlier.
Rightmove said the negligible rise between January and February suggested sellers were realistically pricing their homes in order to sell them in a market that has slowed sharply in recent months.
House prices generally reflect the health of an economy.
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Rising prices help fuel economic growth, whereas falling prices can dent consumer confidence and dampen the economy.
This month mortgage lender Nationwide Building Society reported the longest run of monthly falls in selling prices since the 2008 global financial crisis.
Prices rose at different rates up and down the country, despite the average figure.
The North East, North West, West Midlands, East Midlands and East of England all saw decreases of -0.1%, -0.3%, -0.1%, -2.3% and -0.1% respectively.
Property prices in Scotland spiked by 7.5% over the month, followed by London (2.1%), Yorkshire and the Humber (1.9%), South West (1.6%) and South East (0.7%).
Growth in Wales was flat at 0%.
Tim Bannister, director of property science at Rightmove, said asking prices usually increase at this time of the year, which marks the beginning of the spring selling season.
‘This month’s flat average asking price indicates that many sellers are breaking with tradition and showing unseasonal initial pricing restraint,’ he said.
With asking prices remaining flat – rather than falling – Rightmove says this could be a positive sign that the housing market is not crashing as many analysts have predicted.
Economists polled by the Reuters news agency in November believed prices would drop by 5% in 2023, though even bigger falls have been predicted.
Still, there were some positive signs in the market.
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Property demand was recovering after former prime minister Liz Truss’s botched ‘mini-budget’ in September 2022 which sent mortgage rates soaring.
Sales were up 11% in the first two weeks of February compared to the same period in 2019, Rightmove found.
After Truss’s mini-budget, which was widely criticised for recklessly cutting taxes, the number of sales in the housing market crashed by 30%.
The Resolution Foundation calculates the mini-budget cost the nation £30 billion.
Property sales remain down 11% on pre-pandemic levels.
By Josh Askew