The most profoundly worrying thing about the latest Nationwide house price index press release was a comment from Fionnuala Earley, the building society's chief economist, which I think, in the context it was placed, was meant to be soothing.

Now I may be misinterpreting her words, but either way they are anything but comforting if looked at in a wider economic context.

Pointing to concerns over volatility she said: "This may suggest the beginning of some stabilisation in the pace of house price falls."

That would be comforting if the fall was relatively small, but house prices are falling by 1.7% a month. Or for those who think in cash terms, that is a drop of £3,400 a month on a £200,000 house. To put that kind of money in the bank each month you'd need to be earning £60k plus.

OK it is all "notional" money locked up in your house. But for those worried about dropping into negative equity a price fall of 1.7% a month is pretty scary.

Let's cast forward a few months. If we have reached a steady rate of fall of 1.7% a month, house prices we will have plunged from peak more than 17% by the end of the year and by close on a quarter by the end of next spring.

By then we would be back to prices last seen in 2004.

Great news for first-time buyers, that is if they can keep their jobs as the financial markets (which you could be forgiven for referring to as the "unreal" economy) and the "real" economy go further down the swanee.