The Land Registry said the housing market downturn had led to a 75 per cent collapse in the number of residential property registrations it was handling.
The group, which registers properties in England and Wales, said it received an average of only 627 registrations a day for homes during January, compared with 2,526 a day during the same month a year earlier.
It blamed the fall on the housing market slump, which has led to a steep drop in the number of properties changing hands, while the problems in the mortgage market have reduced the number of people remortgaging, a change that must also be registered.
The total number of all applications handled by the group during the year to the end of March fell to 26.7 million, compared with 36.3 million during the previous year.
The drop led to a steep fall in the group’s fee income to £308,050, down from £482,944 in 2007/2008.
Peter Collins, chief land registrar and chief executive, said: “To put it bluntly, our workload and income have fallen off a cliff. It’s probably the most difficult period in our long history.
“To cope with this huge blow we are cutting back spending, raising our fees and drawing on our reserves.”
He said the group’s money saving measures ranged from using second class stamps to closing all of the restaurants in its office.
It has also shed around 1,100 staff this year through voluntary redundancies and early retirement as part of a previously announced programme of office closures.
But despite these measures, the Land Registry still recorded a loss of £128,725 for the year, compared with a gain of £97,286 during the previous 12 months.
But there were some brighter spots during the year, with the number of registered titles held on the Land Registry data base reaching 22 million, while the first electronic registration of a mortgage on a property was also completed.
The Land Registry also processed more voluntary registrations than compulsory ones for the first time in its history, as it encouraged people whose property or land was not currently registered with it to do so.
Among the properties registered under the voluntary scheme was Hereford Cathedral.
Following a major consultation, the Land Registry also introduced significant changes to its rules to improve its operational efficiency and reduce the administrative burden on customers.
Mr Collis said: “In the future we envisage a smaller, leaner, more customer-focused organisation.”