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Price slide 'over in a year'

Estate agents are optimistic that the slump in UK property prices will be over by this time next year.

Abbey asked agents to say when they thought the market would stabilise. Some 61 per cent reckon prices will have pulled out of their slide within a year and that the market will be on the road to recovery.

Nearly half of these were even more gung-ho, stating that they thought prices would only continue to drop for another three to six months.

"Estate agents and homeowners believe that, despite current movements in house prices, we are unlikely to experience a really prolonged fall. Most think the period of decline will be over within a year," said Phil Cliff, director of Abbey Mortgages.

However, a sizeable proportion of agents were far less upbeat. Some 7 per cent believe that house prices will fall for the next three years at least. If such a dire prediction were to come true, it would mean that the UK property market would have experienced a price slump just as protracted as the one that occurred in the early 1990s.