Data from the ONS shows annual house price growth slowed for the year ended April 2015.

For sale signs

Source: I See Modern Britain, on Flickr

For sale signs

Annual house price growth slowed across the majority of the UK in April, according to the house price index from the ONS.

House prices grew 5.5% for the year ended in April, down from 9.6% in the year to March 2015, giving the largest fall in the annual rate of inflation since April 2005.

The ONS said that one of the main drivers of the continued softening of the UK housing market in April was the sharp weakening in London annual house price growth.

Yet, data showed that in April 2015 prices paid by first-time buyers was 5.8% higher on average than in April 2014. For existing owners prices increased by 5.4% for the same period.

Henry Gregg, assistant director of communications and campaigns at the National Housing Federation, said: “While the increase in house prices slowed down slightly in April, these worrying figures show they are still on the rise. This is terrible news for England’s 11 million private renters whose chances of ever being able to buy a home of their own are becoming increasingly slim. Families in the East of England and the South East are being particularly hard hit, with house prices exploding well above the national average.”

In the year to April 2015 England saw annual house prices increase by 5.8% driven by annual increases in the East (9.6%) and South East (8.4%). This was slightly down on the year to March (9.4%) in England, but it was Scotland that the saw the largest fall in annual growth between March and April, down 12.4% to 2.2%.

This fall was most likely caused by the introduction of the land and buildings transaction tax, which replaced UK stamp duty land tax in Scotland from 1 April 2015.

The impending introduction of this tax in Scotland also saw a significant increase in the number of mortgages between February and March 2015, a significant proportion of which was for houses costing more than £500,000. This ultimately contributed to the high annual growth witnessed in March (14.6%) and mortgage levels in Scotland are now more in line with longer-term trends.