House prices in the UK fell for the fifth month in a row in January, according to Nationwide Building Society. The price of the average property last month was £258,297, down by 0.6% on December.

Annual house price growth slowed to 1.1%, down from 2.8% in December. The Bank of England reported lenders had approved fewer mortgages than expected in December, about 35,000 compared with more than 46,000 in November. That is the lowest number since January 2009, excluding the pandemic lockdowns. Nationwide said the decline in approvals followed a big slowdown in mortgage applications following the government’s mini-budget in September.

Caution abounds in the housing market at present. Sellers may price down if they really need to secure a purchase. Would-be buyers, aware of predictions of further house price falls, may be delaying any decision to make a move. First-time buyers who would usually welcome dropping prices are having to contend with mortgage rates higher than they might have expected. The cost of living could also be hampering their ability to save for a deposit. But – as the Nationwide acknowledges – the UK housing market is made up of often very different regions and neighbourhoods. Individual circumstances and local dynamics can be just as important as the wider economic picture.