Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Housing market sees another fall

For sale signs
Prices have been dropping throughout the year

House prices in England and Wales fell by a further 1.9% in November as activity in the market dropped again, according to the Land Registry.

This pushed the annual drop in property prices to 12.2% - the 15th consecutive monthly decrease, the figures show.

The price of an average home stood at 161,883 with prices falling in every region covered in the last year.

The Registry also revealed that the number of sales dipped in the third quarter of the year.

In the three months to end of September, the number of sales was less than half of the 115,697 of the same period the previous year, at 48,599.

In September the number of properties sold for more than 1m fell by 54% to 354 compared with the same month a year earlier.

Acceleration

The annual fall in prices in England and Wales recorded by the survey has been accelerating in recent months, as the housing market continues to stagnate.

ANNUAL HOUSE PRICE FALLS IN ENGLAND AND WALES
East Midlands: 14.2%
East: 14.1%
South East: 13.7%
South West: 12.8%
Wales: 11.7%
West Midlands: 11.6%
Yorkshire and Humber: 10.6%
North East: 10.3%
London: 10.2%
North West: 10.2%
Source: Land Registry

First-time buyers have not revived the market despite falling prices as they face demands for high deposits from lenders.

Meanwhile, those who might have moved homes have been staying put as prices reduce and the threat of redundancy looms for some during the impending recession.

However the dip comes after a major housing market boom in the last decade. Average house prices now stand at the same level as in February 2006, the survey shows.

Unlike lenders' surveys, the Land Registry data compares the price of properties sold now with the price paid when it was last sold.

However, properties sold - usually for a discount price - following repossessions or transferred following divorce proceedings are excluded from the survey.

Regional breakdown

The survey, which lags behind lenders' data, showed that terraced homes suffered the biggest fall in prices, down 13.5% in the 12 months to November taking the average price to 124,700.

Keys
The Conservatives say people face a greater threat of repossession

A regional breakdown shows that the East Midlands witnessed the biggest annual house price falls at 14.2%.

Wales has seen an annual fall of 11.7%, but the month-on-month figures show prices were unchanged between October and November.

At a more local level, prices in Hartlepool - which were at a relatively low base - fell the least over the last year, down by 2.1%.

The biggest drop was in South Gloucestershire, where the average property cost 13.6% less than it did a year ago.

The survey was published the day after Bank of England figures showed that homeowners were concentrating on repaying their mortgages, rather than spending by cashing in on equity.

Households in the UK put 5.7bn of equity back into homes between July and September , compared with withdrawing 11.1bn in the same period in 2007 to spend on big-ticket items such as cars.

'Be realistic'

Some estate agents have suggested that anyone who wants to sell in the current market might have to accept prices would be 30% lower than at their peak.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four's You and Yours programme on Tuesday, Housing Minister Margaret Beckett rejected claims that the government had been slow off the mark in helping those facing trouble with repossession and falling values.

She said she "shared the regret" that some schemes were not up and running yet, but projects that helped people before they were repossessed took time to set up.

A survey by the Conservatives found that 44% of homeowners asked in the poll were concerned about meeting their mortgage repayments during the next 12 months.

"The government continues to release a series of poorly thought out announcements which are often contradictory and confusing to the public," said shadow housing minister Grant Shapps.

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