How long until we see headlines like this in OZ?
House sales fall is steepest since the 1970s, says RICS
The number of houses changing hands has "collapsed" to the lowest level in 30 years, an influential housing market survey shows today.
The fall in sales far exceeds the depths of the last housing crash in the 1990s and is the lowest since records began in 1978.
The average number of houses that estate agents sold in the past three months was 17.4 - almost a third lower than a year ago, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Its report also says that gazundering, the controversial practice of buyers dropping their offer price after they have agreed to purchase a property, has returned.
While prices have started to fall in earnest only in the past two months, the report makes clear that the property market is in a dire state.
Buyers are refusing, or unable, to hand over any money to purchase a house.
"The continuing lack of demand in the housing market is reflected in the collapse in transactions," says the report."
Tim Edmonds, an estate agent and RICS member, said: "Transactions have virtually halted. Where sales have been agreed, it is very difficult to get them through to exchange."
Neil Hunt, a Derbyshire-based estate agent, said: "Demand has plummeted to a crisis point with sales at their lowest May level in memory.
"An avalanche of job losses in the housing industry is beginning to materialise which could make current media stories look like the good old days."
The credit crisis has pushed up the cost of mortgages and first-time buyers need to find deposits of 10 or even 25 per cent to get the best rates from some lenders - equating to more than £30,000.
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