House prices continue their slide

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The Independent Online

There was more bad news for home owners yesterday with the release of Government figures showing a further drop in prices and a steep decline in the volume of transactions.

Annual house price growth eased for a tenth consecutive month, to stand at a mere 0.1 per cent in June, according to the Land Registry.

Month-on-month, average house prices in England and Wales fell 1 per cent in June, taking the average price to £180,781, the Land Registry said.

Figures from the Land Registry tend to lag other housing market indicators because it publishes data on properties changing hands only once the transactions have completed. More timely data from the Nationwide and Halifax, based on mortgage approvals, show steep price declines of more than 6 per cent on the year.

Hometrack, the property market consultancy, examines asking prices, which are down 4.4 per cent on the year. With an increasing number ofunsold properties, this suggests a lack of initial willingness on the part of vendors to face the reality of depressed real-estate values.

The Land Registry figures show that during April 2008 the number of completed house sales fell 39 per cent to 57,831, from 95,223 in April last year. The rate of decline in housing transactions was less severe than during March, when 50 per cent fewer properties changed hands than during the same month of 2007.

As banks and building societies tighten their lending criteria in the face of the credit crunch, estate agents are raising their fees to compensate for the slowdown.