1,800 firms may go to the wall as banks are accused of 'squeezing the life out of the market' amid fears of a decade-long slump. Independent on Sunday

Up to 1,800 estate agents may go bust by the end of the year unless lenders ease up their squeeze on new mortgages, as fears grow that the UK is heading for a full-scale housing crash, with price falls of up to a fifth.

The warning comes from Nick Salmon, a board member of the National Federation of Property Professionals, who said last week that banks had 'over-reacted' to the credit crunch and were in effect strangling the life out of the property market.

Salmon said: 'Lenders do not seem to be in the business of lending any more. They are the ones who lent irresponsibly and now the public and our industry are paying the price.'