Residential property prices nationally fell by 2.6% in the year to February. This compares with an annual rate of decline of 3.3% in January and a fall of 17.8% in the 12 months to February 2012.

The figures were published by the Central Statistics Office in its Residential Property Price Index.

Overall, residential property prices fell by 1.5% in the month of February. This compares with a fall of 0.6% recorded in January and a 2.2% drop recorded in February of last year.

Dublin house prices fell by 1% in the month but were 2.5% higher compared to a year earlier.

Dublin apartment prices were 7.8% higher when compared with the same month of 2012. But the CSO says the figures for apartments are based on a low volume of sales and show more volatility than other properties.

The price of residential properties in the rest of Ireland fell by 2.1% in February compared with a decline of 3% in February last year.

Prices were 6.1% lower than in February 2012.

The CSO says that house prices in Dublin are 55% lower than at their highest level in early 2007. Apartments in Dublin are 59% lower than they were in February 2007.

The fall in the price of residential properties in the rest of Ireland is lower at 49%.

Reacting to the figures, Merrion Stockbrokers said that the odds point to another drop in residential property prices in 2013, but it believes that the decline will be in low single digits and the smallest annual decrease in the past six years.

Stockbroker NCB said that its view remains that Irish house prices are at the "stabilisation" stage, with a two-tiered outlook between Dublin and the rest of the country firmly in place.

Goodbody said that any recovery in the Irish housing market is unlikely to be a uniform one and will be driven by local considerations on supply and demand. It said valuations have now returned to "affordable" levels, based on price income ratios and rental yields. It added that continued mortgage availability is key to recovery.