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Pace of house price growth softens

The pace of house price growth softened for the sixth month in a row in February , Nationwide Building Society has reported.

UK property values were 5.7% higher last month than they were a year ago, taking the average price to £187,964 and marking the sixth consecutive month that annual house price increases have been falling.

On a month-on-month basis, values were 0.1% lower in February, following a 0.3% monthly increase in January.

House prices reached a string of record highs last year, and for much of 2014 the year-on-year pace of price growth was in double digits, reaching a peak of 11.8% annual growth last June.

Despite the cool-down in recent months, Nationwide said economic conditions were supportive of housing market activity.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said: "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."

Experts are expecting the pace of housing market activity to pick up again in 2015, against the backdrop of continued low mortgage rates.

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