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House prices down 0.1% in January

House prices fell 0.1 per cent in January, according to the latest house price index from Nationwide.

The fall means the average house price now stands at £161,602, down from £162,763 in December.

House prices fell 1.1 per cent year-on-year in January following an increase of 0.4 per cent in December on an annual basis. In the three months to January, house prices fell 0.5 per cent.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardener says: “January’s data does little to alter the picture of a sluggish market that has been evident since the summer. Indeed, the three month on three-month measure of house prices, which is a better measure of the underlying trend, showed a fall of 0.5 per cent, consistent with the gradual moderation in prices that has been in place since the summer of 2010.

“The outlook is still highly uncertain, but the most likely outcome is that the pattern of low transaction levels and prices moving sideways or modestly lower will continue through 2011.”

Spareroom.co.uk director Matt Hutchinson says: “For prospective purchasers, particularly first-time buyers, it is a frustrating time. A sluggish market should represent a good buying opportunity. However, with mortgage finance remaining thin on the ground  for all but the cash and equity rich, many hoping to take advantage of a  property market that is in the doldrums are simply unable to do so.”

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