Figures released this morning show that house prices fell in March for the first time in more than five years.

The latest Permanent TSB/ESRI house price index shows that the average price paid for a house in Ireland in March was €309,071, down 0.6% compared with February.

From January to March prices nationally decreased by 0.5%. This compares with growth of 3.5% in the same period last year. The annual rate of increase in house prices dropped from 9.5% in February to 7.4% in March.

The fall is reflected in all sectors of the housing market apart from Dublin and houses bought by first-time buyers.

Permanent TSB's Niall O'Grady said interest rates and uncertainty over stamp duty were both affecting demand. He called for the stamp duty issue to be tackled if not before the election, then 'as soon as practicable' after it.

A breakdown showed Dublin house prices rose by 0.1% in the month, while those outside Dublin fell 0.5%. House prices for first-time buyers were up 0.1%, but prices for second-time buyers dropped 0.5%. Prices for new and existing homes declined by 0.7% and 0.6% respectively in March.