Slight jump in house prices in February
House prices in the UK rose by 0.2% in February, but remained flat on an annual basis, according to Nationwide.
The average price of a home is now £162,638. Prices rose 0.2% in February compared to January, but over the past 12 months prices have not budged.
"For the second month in a row, UK house prices remained flat in annual terms, maintaining the trend of broad stability that has been evident over the past two years," comments Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide.
He says that while housing market activity is subdued, the Funding for Lending Scheme has achieved some success in bringing down mortgage rates.
Average two-year tracker rates hit a low of 2.5% in February, according to moneysupermarket.com.
Gardner says there are other reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the housing market. "In particular, employment is rising at the fastest pace since the late 1990s which, if maintained, should help support demand for homes."
Home ownership rates
The Nationwide research also found that after rising almost continuously over the course of the 20th century, the rate of home ownership has declined steadily since 2003.
Using data from the Department for Communities and Local Government, it says the rate has dropped from 70.9% in 2003 to 65.3% in 2012.
In particular, more 25-34 year olds, the category that traditionally contains most first-time buyers, are renting than owning now. The proportion of households renting has increased from 40% to 57% between 2002 and 2012.