There has been a sharp change of mood among the traders of housing futures who punt large sums on the level of house prices at given years ahead.

Traders had turned bullish  last autumn and even at the end of the year the Tradition Future HPI was showing a projected one-year out rise of 5% in house prices.

That bullish sentiment turned distinctly sheepish by the end of last month and now the market has settled on a 1% rise one year out.

And there has been a drop, albeit less dramatic, in the housing futures price three and five years out.

Peter Sceats, director of the real estate division at Tradition, puts the fall down to concerns over the weak economic recovery, fears about fiscal tightening after the election and worries that mortgage lending will continue to be limited and selective.

That may all be true, but the real lesson of such a shift in sentiment appears to be the huge degree of uncertainty over the future direction of house prices.

As I have said before, house builders may want to take a good look at the futures market if they’re keen to avoid sleepless nights.