British house prices rose in March by the smallest annual amount since September 2013, figures from mortgage lender Nationwide show today, adding to signs the country's housing market is cooling. 

Nationwide said the annual rate of increase dropped to 5.1% from 5.7% in February, the seventh month in a row that the pace of price growth has slowed. 

Prices in March alone rose by 0.1%. 

Nationwide's chief economist, Robert Gardner, said the recovery in Britain's economy, including lower unemployment and record low interest rates, were supporting the housing market. 

"Nevertheless, the pace of housing market activity has remained subdued, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase in January around 20% below the level prevailing one year ago," he said. 

UK regulators tightened rules for mortgage lending last year in a bid to cool price growth which reached nearly 12% in annual terms in the middle of last year. 

Nationwide said prices in London and southern England again saw the strongest rates of annual growth although there was a noticeable softening in the first three months of the year, particularly in London.

London prices rose by an annual 12.7% in the first quarter, slowing from a rise of 17.8% in the last  three months of 2014.