If the health of the housing market is a function of turnover and price growth then the amount of stamp duty taken from residential sales should provide a fairly good means of diagnosis. In rough and ready terms.

So it was interesting to see how each region fared in the regional resi tax-take stakes.

The most interesting performer was the South West. Having enjoyed the most jolly of times in the financial year to March last year, in the latest financial year it suffered a severe case of the blues.

In the year to March 2007 stamp duty receipts in the South West soared by 73%. Good for the taxman and also good (in terms of it being a measure of housing market health) for the estate agents and house builders of the region. Only in Northern Ireland were there bigger gains as that red hot market fizzed with sales and price growth.

This year the picture in the South West is more sobering. The region was one of only three, with the North East and West Midlands, to see falls in the stamp tax take and it showed by far the biggest fall - down 17%.

Obviously we would be unwise to take these figures too literally, as the impact of tax thresholds will have a distorting effect. But for a broad look at the winners and losers in the property game regionally, it does provide an interesting picture.

And I suspect that we will see every other region joining the South West in negative territory next year as the overall take plunges from £6.7 billion to something that could be well below half that.