Slowing house price growth and lower interest rates are encouraging buyers to return to the property market. Nationwide?s September House Price Report shows that UK house prices fell by 0.2% in September bringing the annual rate of house price growth to its lowest since May 1996.

Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide’s Group Economist said: ?House price growth stalled in the three months to September, with no increase on the previous three months. Yet house prices are still higher than at this time last year.?

The price of an average house in the UK is now £156,517 compared to £153,727 at this time last year. Although 2005 has seen outright house price falls in the Outer London metropolitan area, the North, West Midlands and South West, interestingly London and the South East have seen modest rises. Within the English regions, the fastest rate of annual house price growth was in the North West where prices grew by 4.8% over the year.

Nationwide believes there is still no evidence that Gordon Brown?s housing market bubble might burst. Instead, it reports a robust housing market where softening house price growth has led buyers back to the market

The number of house purchase approvals increased to 97,000 in July, their highest level for a year and just above the average for the last 12 years. Estate agents across the country have consistently reported increased buyer interest over the last few months but property experts warn that an Autumn recovery is dependent upon bridging the gap between buyer and seller expectations. Hamptons International Country House director, John Denney comments: ‘If you are looking for a sale now, the key is to be not so over ambitious with pricing.’.

According to Nationwide?s report, house price inflation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is far higher than in the rest of Britain, indicating that the fastest growing house price areas are outside England. ?Scotland has a good steady market,? says Matthew Munro of Knight Frank?s Edinburgh department, ?And there is plenty of growth left in the Edinburgh market?. Retties & Co in Edinburgh sold no less than 26 properties over £1 million in the first six months of this year.