Jeremy Warner: Housing market takes another beating

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Outlook Even as late as last Christmas, many economists were still of the view that UK house prices would plateau rather than plunge into the abyss. Never mind the banking crisis, the fundamentals of limited supply and rising demand would keep them high. This line of reasoning always looked questionable and so it has proved.

According to the latest Nationwide survey, house prices are already down nearly 15 per cent year on year. For housing at least, a deflationary mentality already rules. Few are going to buy a house in a falling market when they know it will be even cheaper tomorrow. Lack of available mortgage finance makes the outlook for the housing market grimmer still. If the early Nineties are anything to go by, house prices will stabilise after a couple of years of decline and then gently begin rising again. Don't be so sure. House prices in Japan, another overcrowded island with limited supply, are still lower than they were in the late 1980s.