The sharp fall wiped out any optimism created by the surprise 2pc rise reported for January following a sustained period of falls.
Average house prices in February slid to £160,327, down from £194,953 in the same month a year ago. This takes average prices back to levels last seen in August 2004 and 20pc lower than the peak in late 2007.
One of the biggest problems for the housing market has been the inability among potential buyers to secure mortgages, with banks remaining risk averse and unwilling to lend. The number of first time buyers is now at the lowest level in 35 years.