House prices fell for a fourth successive month in May, taking the annual rate of decline to levels last experienced in the early 1990s property slump, a survey by Halifax showed yesterday.

The lender said its house price index fell 2.4% last month, nearly double the change analysts had expected, leaving prices 3.8% lower over the last quarter than they were a year earlier.

Comparing May with the same month in 2007, prices have fallen more than 6%, although monthly volatility in the figures makes that comparison less reliable. The Bank of England tends to look at an average of the Halifax index and that of Nationwide, which last week showed prices down 4.4% in the past year.

'The message is clear – the decline in prices is at risk of turning into a rout,' said Malcolm Barr, economist at JPMorgan.

Financial Times, The Times