House prices have fallen for the fifth month in a row, with the average property now worth �258,297, almost �4,000 less than in December, reports Nationwide.
January saw a -0.6% monthly dip which left prices 3.2% lower than their August peak, while annual house price growth also slowed at the start of the year to 1.1%, down from 2.8% in December.
All regions are suffering from reduced affordability compared to 2021, with London and the South East particularly hard hit, according to the lender.
Chief economist Robert Gardner (pictured) says it's too early to tell whether activity in the housing market has started to recover in the continuing economic headwinds.
'The overall affordability situation looks set to remain challenging in the near term,'� he predicts.
'Saving for a deposit is proving a struggle for many given the rising cost of living, especially those in the private rented sector where rents have been rising at their strongest pace on record.'�
Chestertons reports that while buyer demand is strong, the number of market appraisals remains comparably low as some sellers are still waiting to see how the market develops in the first quarter of this year.
'Sellers who are currently listing their property are therefore in a stronger position to attract serious buyers and offers,'� says head of sales Matthew Thompson.
Fine & Country MD Nicky Stevenson adds that a month without a base rate rise '� when it finally comes '� could be enough to produce a quick turnaround in home-buyer numbers.
'As the Bank of England weighs up whether to make a tenth successive hike in interest rates tomorrow, buyers will be hoping lenders have factored another rise into their products already,'� she says.
'If mortgage rates remain stable, this could be enough to convince many people to resume their property search.'�