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House prices plunged last month following the reintroduction of stamp duty and the collapse of economic confidence in the wake of sterling's exit from the European exchange rate mechanism.Desperate sellers cut prices by an average of £2,000 creating a record monthly price fall of 3.1 per cent, according to the Halifax Building Society.The Halifax figures back up claims made by house builders that the slight glimmers of a recovery seen earlier this year have vanished.And they add more gloom to Government figures showing housing starts during June to August down 2 per cent on the previous three months.In the year to August private sector housing starts were 7 per cent lower than over the same period a year ago. Only the rise in housing association building is providing any crumbs of comfort for troubled builders.Greater London continues to be worst hit with the Halifax recording a fall in house prices of 9.8 per cent over the year. In Scotland on the other hand prices continue to rise - up 0.3 per cent over the year.