The number of transactions in England and Wales fell to a five-year low last year.
The ONS figures shows that a drop in purchases of typical buy-to-let and first-time buyer homes leading the decline.
The ONS house price statistics for small areas found the total number of residential property sales recorded by HM Land Registry for England and Wales fell 5.3% annually to 856,420 in December.
This was the second consecutive year in which the number of property transactions has decreased in the two countries and is the lowest number of sales since the year ending December 2013.
The figures don’t include data for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Transactions involving flats and maisonettes suffered the most, declining 10.3% – with 17,352 fewer sales – from the previous year, a larger fall than any other property type.
The next largest decrease was for detached properties and terrace properties, of which there were 4.9% fewer transactions compared with 2017.
The overall value of residential property transactions in England and Wales – a combination of sales and prices – fell by 3.9% annually in 2018 to £255bn, the ONS said.
Separate data shows that the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase hit a three-year high in May.
Trade body UK Finance says there were 49,683 mortgage approvals last month, up 9.1% annually and the highest number since June 2016.
However, the value of home loans fell 0.4% annually to £21.9bn.
The previously strong market for remortgaging declined, with approval down 3.7% annually.