Halifax said house prices fell 0.3% in February from January although in the three months to February they were 2.6% higher than in the preceding three months.
Annual price growth eased, from 8.5% in January to 8.3% in February, and is comfortably below last July’s peak of 10.2%.
The average UK house price now stands at £192,372.
Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: “The firming in price growth shown by the recent pick-up in the three-month-on-three-month comparison and indications of a modest rise in activity are likely to be due to a boost to housing demand as a result of increases in real earnings and spending power, further recent falls in mortgage rates and Stamp Duty changes.
“The supply of both new and second hand homes available for sale remains low; another factor that is likely to be supporting house prices. Supply remains tight despite housebuilding in England increasing for the second consecutive year in 2014 and a recent rise in the number of properties coming on to the market.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said it is not worth worrying too much about a monthly fluctuation in an ‘average’ index.
“Despite this monthly fall, mortgage approvals continue to rise, as borrowers realise it’s a great time to get a mortgage. Assuming you meet lenders’ affordability criteria, rates are at their cheapest ever levels – and are unlikely to be bettered,” he said.
Charlie Wells, managing director of buying agency Prime Purchase, said that vendors who price their homes correctly and present them well are still selling quickly.
“With interest rates unlikely to rise this year, those reliant on a mortgage will find it is a good time to buy. This will particularly benefit first-time buyers and stretched young families trying to move up the housing ladder,” he said. “As for the next few months, the general election will give some homeowners an excuse not to put their property on the market until certainty returns. But if you have something special to sell then it will always sell, whether a general election is looming or not.”