Residential property prices around the country fell by 0.5% in December, the latest Central Statistics Office figures show.

In the year to December, property prices fell by 4.5% nationwide - the slowest pace of decline on a year-on-year basis since May 2008.

The CSO said this compares to an annual rate of decline of 5.7% in November and a fall of 16.7% in the 12 months to December 2011.

The figures exclude cash buyers but they do show the market remains volatile.

Today's CSO figures reveal that Dublin property prices fell by 1.3% last month and were 2.5% lower than a year ago.

Dublin house prices decreased by 1.7% in December compared to November. They were also 1.7% lower compared to the same time the previous year.

Apartment prices in Dublin were 10.9% lower in December compared to the same time in 2011.

The price of property in the rest of the country was unchanged in December 2012 compared with a fall of 1.1% in December 2011.

The CSO said that the national residential property price index is 50% lower than its highest level in 2007.

House prices in Dublin are 54% lower than at their highest level in early 2007, while Dublin apartment prices are 62% below their peaks.

Overall residential property prices in Dublin are down 56% from their 2007 peaks, while prices in the rest of the country are 47% lower.

Commenting on today's figures, Davy economist Conall Mac Coille said the underlying trend is that prices have been broadly stable since the end of the first quarter of 2012.

''However, transactions remain weak, and house prices appear to have gained support from the lack of properties on the market, artificially so given exceptionally low repossessions by banks of delinquent properties,'' he added.

Merrion economist Alan McQuaid noted that estate agents are reporting that around 40% of activity in the housing market at the moment is being done through cash. He said this suggests things may be stronger than the CSO numbers indicate.

''Still, the latest monthly fall in the CSO index does underline the fact that consumer confidence regarding the housing market remains fragile,'' he added.