House prices fell by 3.1% month-on-month in April - the biggest monthly decline since September 2010, according to an index.

The sharp decrease took the average UK house price to £220,962, Halifax said.

It followed a 1.6% month-on-month increase in March, which Halifax said reflects "the volatility in the short-term monthly measure".

The annual house price rise also cooled, from 2.7% in March to 2.2% in April.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: "Housing demand has softened in the early months of 2018, with both mortgage approvals and completed home sales edging down.

"Housing supply - as measured by the stock of homes for sale and new instructions - is also still very low.

"However, the UK labour market is performing strongly with unemployment continuing to fall and wage growth finally picking up.

"These factors should help to ease pressure on household finances and as a result we expect annual price growth will remain in our forecast range of 0-3% this year."

Commenting on the report, Sarah Beeny, founder of estate agent, said: "I think this drop in growth is just a slight, seasonal blip caused by some very bad weather periods, and I think we'll see a steady and sustainable pace of growth throughout the rest of 2018."

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said the 3.1% monthly price fall "was a much sharper drop than expected even allowing for the fact that some correction was always likely after prices had surprisingly spiked up 1.6% month-on-month in March."

He continued: "The housing market is clearly currently struggling to gain traction and we suspect that any meaningful upturn will remain elusive over the coming months.

"We expect house price gains over 2018 will be limited to a modest 2%. At this stage, we expect prices to rise by 3% in 2019."

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: "We are entering what is supposed to be the busy spring buying season, which tends to set the tone for the rest of the year.

"More recently, activity and listings have picked up but we are finding the market still quite sensitive and only those prepared to negotiate hard are moving on."

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: "What we have seen is a number of lenders raise mortgage rates in recent weeks on the back of higher swap rates but they are still very reasonably priced as lenders compete for business in a fairly subdued market."