Taylor Wimpey, has halted acquisition of development land amid growing fears about the health of the housing market. Sunday Times

City sources said it decided to freeze land purchases in mid-October and has been out of the market since mid-November. It is thought the only purchases completed were those to which it was committed before October.

Taylor Wimpey rivals Barratt and Persimmon are also said to have slowed down acquisitions of land. Sources close to both say they were being 'very selective' about new deals.

Sales of new homes have slowed sharply since the autumn and house builders are nervous about prospects for next year.