By Daniel Hunter

According to the Halifax House Price Index house prices in the three months to February were 1.1% lower than in the previous three months.

This is a little lower than in January (-0.9%) and the fifth consecutive month that this measure of the underlying trend has been slightly negative.

"House prices in the three months to February were 1.1% lower than in the previous three months. There was a 0.5% decline in prices in February, largely offsetting January's 0.6% rise," Martin Ellis, housing economist, said.

"Overall, prices nationally are at broadly the same level as last spring. This stability in prices is explained by the fact that market conditions have changed very little over this period with demand supported by low interest rates and supply remaining tight."

On a monthly basis, house prices fell by 0.5% in February. This followed January's 0.6% increase and continues the mixed monthly pattern seen over the past year.

Prices in the three months to February were 1.9% lower than in the same period a year earlier. This measure of the annual rate was little changed from the previous month (-1.8%) and has been between -1% and -2% for the last five months.

Nationally, the average level of house prices is very little changed to last spring. The UK average price in February, at £160,118, was similar to that in April 2011 (£160,393).

"Falling inflation should relieve some of the pressure on household finances over the coming months," Ellis added.

"Many of the economic statistics released in recent weeks have also been encouraging, suggesting that the UK may avoid slipping back into recession. These developments are positive for the housing market outlook.

"Significant uncertainties, however, persist and the prospects for house prices during 2012 will, to a large extent, depend on events in the Eurozone and the potential knock-on effects on the UK."

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