The value of transactions in the major towns and cities of England and Wales fell for the first time since the midst of the financial crisis, the ONS says.
The ONS house price statistics for small areas in England and Wales shows that the value of sales in the year to March 2017 was £239bn, down from £273bn a year before.
This is the first time it has decreased since the year ending March 2009.
The fall does not seem to be because of individually falling house prices, but is rather linked to plummeting transactions: there were 844,424 registered property transactions in England and Wales in the year ending March 2017, falling from 986,362 in the year before, the report shows.
The research also identifies house price gaps in local areas – the ratio showing the difference between the median of the most expensive and cheapest properties in a local area.
The house price gap was widest in the north-west of England, where the median price paid for property in the 10% most expensive neighbourhoods was 2.8 times more than the 10% least expensive neighbourhood.
London had one of the lowest price gap ratios at 2.4, attributed to both the cheapest and most expensive properties still being pricey, while the south-west had the overall lowest at 2.08.
Overall, the most expensive median property in England and Wales was four times more expensive than the cheapest.
Commenting on the figures, Andy Sommerville, director of conveyancing software provider Search Acumen, said the housing market has come to an almost complete standstill.
He said: “As we look ahead to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement we urge the UK Government to build on policies that are simply not radical enough to reverse the trend that has seen our housing market come to a near standstill. Our economy relies on it.”