House prices fell over the first three months of the new year, figures from the Government show.
Data from Communities and Local Government have revealed that the price people paid for property dropped by 0.5% over the first quarter of 2011, compared with the last three months of 2010.
The fall would have been greater if it were not for a monthly rise of 1.2% in prices that was recorded in March, driving a 0.9% annual increase.
The figures reflect a housing market in which conditions vary widely depending on location.
England was the only country to record a yearly rise in prices (1.3%), while there were falls of 0.7% in Scotland, 2.5% in Wales and 13.9% in Northern Ireland.
At the end of March a buyer could have expected to part with an average of £213,272 in England, £161,070 in Scotland, £146,620 in Northern Ireland and £145,053 in Wales.
Unsurprisingly, London saw the strongest growth of any region in England, with prices rising by 5.6% over the year to March.
By contrast, the largest fall was seen in the North East, where homeowners saw an average of 5.3% wiped off the value of their properties.
Fittingly, the capital is the most expensive place to buy a home, with average prices at £342,521, while the North East is the cheapest region to invest in a property, at just over £130,407.
Recent research from Rightmove revealed that agents are experiencing increased levels of property on their books, with a slump in buying caused by the bank holiday period and warm weather.
"The increase in agents' property stock levels combined with a reduction in the number of properties coming to the market suggest that the number of buyers has fallen even faster than the number of sellers, and transaction volumes will therefore remain low as we move into he traditional summer slowdown," said Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove.
"Estate agents usually see their stock turnover more quickly during the spring, but this year's slower market suggests that stock levels may exceed Rightmove's previous record of 79 properties per branch over the next few months."
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