There is a growing chorus of voices saying that the worst is over in the housing market and that the upturn is not that far away.

And to add a bit more volume to the choir is the latest Consumer and Housing prospects report from the business and economic consultancy CEBR, which sees house price growth returning early next year.

Although the report is not what one might describe as particularly cheery and is a far cry from those who are loudly whispering that potential home buyers had "better get in now while there are rich pickings to be had".

It is perhaps a sign of the extent of the collapse so far experienced in the market that leads CEBR to say that house prices "only" have around eight per cent left to fall.

CEBR house prices May 2009.gif

This view is not outside that of many other forecasters, but it is worth reflecting that in brighter times the idea of an 8% fall would have been viewed as highly disturbing.

The CEBR projections for mortgage approvals are also a cause for concern for those who are banking on a rapid return to more normal levels of activity in the market.

It will not be until 2013, if the forecasters are right, that mortgage approvals will be in what might be regarded as more normal territory.

In terms of the speed of recovery, underlying the CEBR view is that "worsening conditions in the labour market and the wider economy seem likely to counter-balance historically low interest rates and slowly improving credit conditions".

The balance between these extremely potent forces, it seems sensible to assume, is what is critical to both the speed and the strength of recovery. And it is where most uncertainty lies with regard to forecasting the path of house prices.

I suspect we have some distance yet to travel before we can fully gauge the relative force of each of these and so the shape of the housing market recovery.