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House prices '8% down on last year'

The average property now costs just £169,000 in the UK - £15,000 less than it did last year.Nationwide said today that house prices have fallen by a further 1.7 per cent this month, bringing the annual drop to a record 8.1 per cent.This is the largest 12-month decline since the firm began its house price survey in 1991.Nine consecutive months of falls have now been marked by the lender, which blamed the credit crunch for the trend.However, recent reductions in mortgage costs were cited by Nationwide chief economist Fionnuala Earley as reasons to hope that the housing market would begin growing again."Overall the weakening economy and poor housing market sentiment do not suggest that the market will recover quickly," she said."As the cost of mortgages begins to come down, activity could be bolstered and restore some liquidity to the housing market," she added."However this is not expected to happen overnight."

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