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CML predicts 7% price fall

The Council of Mortgage Lenders is forecasting that house prices will drop by 7 per cent by the end of this year despite the fact that lending was up 5 per cent in April.

It expects gross lending for this year to be around 21 per cent lower than last year, at 285bn, and net lending to be half last year’s level, at 55bn.

The CML believes that property transactions in England and Wales will be about 35 per cent lower than last year, at 770,000, and expects bank base rate to drop to 4.75 per cent by the end the year.

It also predicts that repossessions will leap by two-thirds to 45,000 from 27,100 in 2007.

Gross lending hit 25.3bn last month, down by 8 per cent from the same time last year but up by 5 per cent from March, although the CML puts the this down to the fact that Easter was early. For March and April combined, lending was down by 16 per cent from 2007 levels.

Director general Michael Coogan says the CML’s forecasts account for the Bank of England’s liquidity injection.

He says: “In the wake of the credit crunch, 2008 will be remembered as a very weak year in the housing market. But our forecasts assume some indirect benefits from the Bank of England special liquidity scheme beginning to have an effect in the mortgage market in the later part of the year. Over the next few months, lending volumes will get worse before they get better.

“The market is still very uncertain but lenders are working hard to ensure that borrowers coming off fixed rates remain on track, that arrears and repossessions are minimised and that pricing is as attractive as they can make it in a market where they must manage the demand for lending with caution.”

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