The above graph is from the Financial Times Alphaville website, as part of an article that discusses Britain's exceptionally poor situation compared with other major economies.
I bought the house we're in, in 1984. I was stunned when, several years ago, a friend told me what it was worth then. House prices have felt like a fantasy for years - maybe that's why people started to borrow against them for consumer spending sprees. Buying with a credit card (or line of credit on your home) never seems as difficult as parting with folding money. It was all a lovely dream.
Now, we're waking up. Britain's underlying troubles seem to me at least as bad as in the early 80s and the early 90s, so it appears logical that when the government faces up to the challenges (instead of credit-spending its way onwards, as is still happening) house prices will go below the "average" line to match the previous lows.
I think it will be a buyer's market for years to come. So for downshifters, it may be worth selling at what seems a painful discount now, to make sure you have the cash to go buy something cheaper (also at a discount, naturally).
Having said that, I have also observed before that the housing market is segmented according to location and price bracket. Prices may well change more (or houses may trade more slowly) in some categories than in others. To see what houses have actually sold for in the UK, look here; for sold prices in the USA, see Domania here.
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