House of Decline  
The finger of blame is once again being pointed towards the banks, this time for house prices being at a 21 month low. In a survey released today by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, estate agents warn that the decline in the housing market is due to the banks refusing to lend to home buyers.

According to figures from Halifax, house prices fell at their fastest rate for 18 months during April. The average cost of a home fell to 1.4% during April to £160,395, which is the lowest level since July 2009.

Geoffrey Holden, a RICS member based in East Sussex, said: “There is a continuing shortage of mortgage funds. Lenders are extremely reluctant to provide funds, making purchases difficult.”

According to the survey, the future for house prices remains bleak with 18 per cent more estate agents expecting house prices to fall rather than rise in the next three months.

Michael Newey, a spokesman for RICS, said: “Activity still remains subdued and it is difficult to see it picking up materially over the coming months.”

The Halifax group believe the decline is due to the ever-weakening consumer confidence and the economic downfall putting downward pressure on house prices.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis saw the future for housing prices in a more positive light, saying: "Signs of a modest tightening in housing market conditions, a relatively low burden of servicing mortgage debt and an increase in the number of people in employment are all likely to be providing support for house prices, curbing the pace of decline."

The figured from Halifax contrasted with figures released by Nationwide for April, which revealed that house prices had dropped by just 0.2% and had remained more or less unchanged.

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