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Would-be new buyers turn backs on market

The housing market slowdown is deepening, with prospective homebuyers abandoning the market at the fastest rate in over four years, new figures show.

House prices have fallen for the second month running and the market is showing worrying signs of a downturn, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It says the number of new buyers is falling at the fastest rate since early 2003.

RICS spokesman, Jeremy Leaf, said: "The combination of rising interest rates, the introduction of Home Information Packs and volatility in the financial markets resulting in tightening of lending criteria have affected the confidence of buyers and sellers."