House prices slip on buyer caution
House prices fell by 0.7% during October as buyers continued to stay away from the market, figures showed.
The average cost of a home in the UK dropped by nearly £2,400 to £164,381 during the month, as the downward trend in prices seen since the start of the summer continued, Nationwide said.
House prices have either fallen or remained static in every month since the end of May, with the drops seen during 2010 nearly wiping out the gains made during the early part of the year.
The quarter-on-quarter change to house prices, which is generally seen as a smoother indicator of market trends, also showed that the rate at which property values are falling has accelerated.
House prices dipped by 1.5% during the three months to the end of October, compared with a 1% slide during the quarter to the end of September.
Nationwide said this was the biggest fall since April 2009, although it remains well down on the quarterly drops of 5% and 6% recorded during the second half of 2008.
The annual rate of house price growth also declined for the sixth consecutive month, falling to just 1.4% - less than half the 3.4% recorded during the previous month.
Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "If the recent trend in house prices were to continue through November and December, the annual rate of house price inflation would drop to between 0% and minus 1% by the end of 2010. This would compare to a rate of 5.9% at the end of 2009."
House prices have come under increasing pressures in recent months as potential buyers have adopted a "wait and see" approach until the outlook for both the housing market and the wider economy becomes clearer.
But sellers have continued to return to the market, creating a mismatch between supply and demand and giving buyers the upper hand in price negotiations.