Almost five years of gains have been wiped off the price of the average home, according to the latest survey of house prices from Nationwide.

In February, prices fell by an average of 1.8%, leading to a 17.6% drop for the past 12 months in spite of lower interest rates that have made monthly mortgage payments more affordable.

The latest fall takes the average house price to below £150,000 for the first time since May 2004. Since their peak in October 2007, house prices as measured by the Nationwide Index have fallen 20.6% from their average price then of £186,044.

Nationwide said that since 2007, existing variable rate borrowers had seen their mortgage payments fall by a third.

Financial Times, The Times, The Independent