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House prices fall 16.2pc for 2008

House prices fell by 16.2 per cent last year, according to Britain's biggest mortgage lender.

Halifax said the decline was the biggest drop for a calendar year since its records began in 1983 and that the typical price of a property now stood at £159,896 - back to August 2004 levels.

The plunge in values was topped off by a 2.2 per cent decline for the month of December alone.

Halifax warned the property market would come under further pressure in 2009.

Various bodies have predicted a sustained drop in prices this year and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said house building will also fall away dramatically.

RICS said the total new housing starts for 2008 were unlikely to be much above 110,000 – a figure far lower than recorded during the recession of the 1990s. But it predicted starts for this year would plunge below 80,000 in what it described as a “major concern”.