The value of a typical UK property was 17.6 per cent less this month compared to February 2008, according to figures published by Nationwide.

An average home costs £147,746, down from £179,358 a year ago, the building society revealed in its latest monthly house price study.

House price decline increased to 1.8 per cent in February, increasing from the 1.3 per cent rate recorded a month earlier, the survey also showed.

The continued downward trend of house prices could be welcome news for private landlords with buy-to-let mortgages, as a recent study of the private rented sector by Paragon Mortgages showed rental accommodation investors were taking advantage of the downturn.

Indeed, the buy-to-let lender revealed the average size of a private landlord's portfolio increased from 12.1 to 13.2 in the third quarter of 2008, as investors snapped up homes at relatively low values.

"They are spotting bargains in local markets and are purchasing with a long-term view,"commented John Heron, managing director at Paragon.ADNFCR-2002-ID-19047072-ADNFCR

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