Figure is the lowest annual increase in four years, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index

House prices across UK have risen by just 2.6% during the past year, seeing the average cost of a home rise to £218,390.

It is the lowest annual increase in four years, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index published today (Friday). The past quarter has seen prices 0.1% lower than between January to March this year. It is the third successive quarterly fall, the first time this has happened in five years, states the report.

The Halifax cites factors such as pressure on household finances due to inflation outstripping wage increase, describing this as a development that is “likely to have weakened market activity”. Experts also pointed to issues around planning, while confirming the ability of people to pay a mortgage every month remained a factor.

House sales declined by 3% between April and May, to 100,170. However, sales have exceeded 100,000 in five successive months for the first time since March last year.

Yet in terms of the actual homes that are available, supply is “historically very low.” New instruction for home sales fell for the 15th consecutive month in May, with the average stock levels on estate agents’ books at an “all-time low,” according to the research.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said that although employment levels continued to rise, household finances faced increasing pressure as consumer prices grow faster than wages. “This, combined the new stamp duty on buy to let and second homes in 2016, appears to have weakened housing demand in recent months.”

He added: “A continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing acute shortage of properties for sale should help continue to underpin house prices over the coming months.”

However, the modest rise in house prices during the past year rise is less than the 3.5% increase in the retail price index over the 12 months to May this year, and experts are warning that house prices will fall over the longer term.

Paul Cheshire, emeritus professor of economic geography at the London School of Economics, told Building: “There’s likely to be a downward correction of house prices, primarily because of decline in real incomes and the fact that the planning world and indeed the building world tend to act as if what determined demand for housing was household numbers and population.

“But that has quite amazingly little to do with demand, which is mainly determined in the long term by incomes,” he added.