House prices in England and Wales fell further in November, with declines particularly acute in the relatively affluent south-east, sending average values to levels not seen since February 2006, official data show.

Land Registry figures for November show prices down by 1.9%, equal to the drop in October, with average prices now 12.2% below those of a year ago.

However, Halifax, one of the largest mortgage providers, said affordability for first-time buyers improved significantly in 2008.

In its first review of affordability for those new to the housing market, Halifax noted that the ratio of average house prices to average earnings fell to 4.56 in November from a peak of 5.84 in July 2007. The last time houses were this affordable for first-time buyers was July 2003.

But in London, the South-west, the West Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland, the average property bought by a first-time buyer remains unaffordable for someone on average earnings, the findings revealed

Financial Times, The Times, The Independent