The latest figures show that home sales in 2008 were down 43% compared with 2007, but scarier than that is the drop in level of property transaction over the second half of last year.

This poses a real threat to even "technically" viable housing schemes.

Sales are running well below half of the pre credit crunch level.

The real concern here for house building is that most of the larger and more complex schemes rely on high sales rates to generate sufficient momentum to ensure all the properties are sold.

So even if the developer can structure a project with homes selling at "competitive" prices for the location, it will still face huge risks with potential buyers concerned they may end up living in a part-filled development.

For the record just 908,000 homes were sold last year compared with 1,628,000 in 2007 and 1,686,000 in 2006.