The growth of the UK's house prices is slowing down, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The latest figures show prices rising by 7.6% in the year to February, compared with a growth rate of 7.9% in January.
The ONS said the average price for a house in the UK is now £283,658.
England saw the biggest rise (8.2%), driven mainly by the South East (11.4%), the East (10.3%) and London (9.7%). Northern Ireland and Wales saw similar increases of 2.4% and 2.8%, respectively. But Scottish house prices fell 0.8%. The ONS said that excluding London and the South East, prices for the whole of the UK were up 5%.
The figures also revealed disappointing news for first-time buyers, who paid 8% more for a house than in February last year, whereas existing home owners paid 7.4% more.
Richard Sexton, director of chartered surveyor e.surv, said: “There’s a regional revolution underway. House prices in the East and South East have been hanging on the capital’s coattails for a long time, but not anymore. The South East’s commuter credentials are resulting in higher annual house price growth than in London. People struggling to purchase property in the capital are hunting elsewhere and the South East is the obvious choice – creating a surge in demand.
“Across the UK however, the usual suspects are holding back homeownership dreams. A supply shortage is leading to price hikes – which many buyers simply can’t meet. This shouldn’t be the case. Savings have seen a boost from low inflation and rising wages. But unfortunately, housing market prices are generally still moving faster."