The Nationwide Building Society has revealed that annual house price growth remained subdued in February, with prices just 0.4% higher than the same time last year.
The average house price is £211,304.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, but survey data suggests that sentiment has softened.
“Measures of consumer confidence weakened around the turn of the year and surveyors reported a further fall in new buyer enquiries over the same period.
“While the number of properties coming onto the market also slowed, this doesn’t appear to have been enough to prevent a modest shift in the balance of demand and supply in favour of buyers in recent months.”
Nicholas Finn, executive director of Garrington Property Finders, added: “January’s horror show proved mercifully brief, and house price growth returned to characteristically anaemic form in February.
“But it says much about the fragility of confidence that a shift from sliding to sluggish growth is seen as progress.
“House prices are looking increasingly disconnected from Britain’s economic fundamentals. GDP growth may be softening, but a higher proportion of Britons are in work than ever, average wages are rising at a decent lick and mortgages are set to remain cheap.
“Against the tide of Brexit uncertainty, the homeowning dream is burning bright. Government figures show the number of people owning their own home with a mortgage in England rose by a solid 5% in 2018.
“Despite Brexit’s all-pervasive squeeze on confidence, buyer demand remains strong in some areas, even if old certainties are being shaken up.
“At one extreme we’re seeing a surge in the numbers of opportunistic buyers emerging to snap up homes at large discounts. This is particularly true in London, where prices fell consistently in 2018 – with the weakness now spreading to the suburbs and south east England.
“Meanwhile 2018’s strongest regional performer, the West Midlands, is giving ground to new emerging hotspots in the East Midlands and the North West.
“If there’s one common factor in Britain’s fractured property market, it’s that these are anxious times for sellers, and many buyers will want the reassurance of a low price in order to proceed.
“That dynamic is allowing a steady stream of strategic buyers to pounce on buying opportunities that may not be around once the market normalises.”