Home sales are falling through at a 'significantly higher' rate, Bovis Homes warned, as British lenders make mortgages harder to secure. Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent

The housebuilder said conditions in the housing market had deteriorated sharply in recent weeks, with the number of sales agreed tumbling 30% so far this year and the number of deals completed dwindling.

Malcolm Harris, chief executive of Bovis, said: 'Cancellations have gone up, and it’s not surprising as people can’t raise mortgages.

'Our visitor numbers have held up pretty well, but we are seeing people who thought they could afford to make an offer, find a property – only to go back to their lender and find the mortgage they had arranged has been withdrawn from the market.'

During March, 2,932 deals were taken off the market, according to financial information group Moneyfacts.co.uk, leaving just 4,794 deals left. Mortgage experts have consistently warned that home buyers need to act fast as the available deals dry up – a problem confirmed by the number of mortgages approved plunging 46% during March, compared to the previous year, according to the British Bankers’ Association.

The slump in sales chimes with leaked figures from a confidential Home Builders Federation survey that pointed to a nearly two-thirds slump in new-house sales in the past two weeks compared with last year.