Number of homes coming to market halves in a year

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The Independent Online

The frozen state of the property market is laid bare today in the latest figures from the Rightmove property website. Rightmove's monthly survey reveals that the number of properties coming to market is running at about half the levels seen this time last year – 43,000 this month, compared with 89,000 in January last year. Those choosing to brave the current difficult conditions are asking 1.9 per cent less than they did in December, accelerating the annual drop in asking prices to 7.3 per cent in January, from 6.3 per cent. These are steeper falls than a few months ago, and are more in line with the fall in selling prices registered in the Nationwide and Halifax indices than they have been in the past: selling prices for property, as opposed to vendors' initial valuations, are running about 17 per cent down on a year ago.

Rightmove sees scope for further falls, but says that prices are now within 8 per cent of the bottom of the market according to their 2009 forecast. However, the Ernst & Young Item Club, which uses the Treasury's economic model and sees joblessness peaking at well over 3 million, said yesterday that there would be a 16 per cent fall in house prices over this year, with a further 6 per cent decline in 2010. This would make a 2007-2010 peak-to-trough fall of over a third as the market remains starved of finance.

Miles Shipside, the commercial director of Rightmove, commented: "The speed with which prices have declined has been worrying, but it does mean we are potentially reaching the bottom sooner. One of the factors that will help to arrest price falls is a lack of property coming on to the market, resulting in lower inventory."

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