The housing market in the West Midlands experienced the sharpest deterioration in prices during June and the fastest decline in property sales, according to new figures from RICS – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Surveyors in the region said restrictions on first time buyers had slowed over all sales.
John Ozwell, of Hunters, Solihull, West Midlands, said: “Sales levels are now 60 per cent down on previous years.
“There is no movement at the bottom end of the market to release the blockage higher up.
“First time buyers have no stamp duty or deposits saved up, therefore they can not kick start the market.”
However, the RICS figures showed that the housing market in London is showing signs of recovery after being hit by the credit crunch.
Instructions to sell property in the capital have increased for the third consecutive month, according to the institution.
The group said confidence in price outlook was strongest in London, despite the number of homes changing hands across England and Wales reaching a record low.
Luke Pendlet of Knight Frank, Wandsworth, said: “We had more sales in June 2008 than in June 2007.
“If I did not read the papers I would be thinking we were on for a good year.”
Surveyors in London reported a growing gulf between the top end and mainstream housing market, with top end clients eager to buy.
Noel Flint of Knight Frank, Knightsbridge said: “The mainstream market has slowed.
“The top end is still seeing a significant level of activity.
“We currently have a healthy list of international buyers frustrated at not being able to find anything.”
The research also revealed how “opportunistic” buyers are taking advantage of the downturn by negotiating huge discounts from desperate vendors.
David Sherwood, of Fenn Wright, Colchester, said: “Buyers and sellers now accept that prices are dropping. On the one hand, vendors are willing to accept a compromise and take an offer, equally though, opportunistic buyers are cynically dropping their offers at the point of exchange. Hardly cricket, is it?”
Meanwhile, Laing O’Rourke, the UK’s largest privately-owned construction company, yesterday posted a 21.5 per cent rise in full-year managed turnover, while EBITDA jumped 42.3 perc ent versus last year, beating the group’s forecasts.
The group said its strong set of financial results for the year ending March 31, 2008 reflect significant earnings growth and a record order book.
Managed turnover rose to £4.24 billion compared with £3.5 billion a year ago, while EBITDA soared to £142.6 million against £100.2 million a year ago.
The group said its order book at the year-end stood at £9.31 billion versus £8.37 billion last year.