Prices of three- and four-bed houses remain depressed while smaller and high-end homes regain some value

Three- and four-bedroom houses have been hit worst by the property slump, according to the National Association of Estate Agents.

The body said that high-end properties and smaller houses had both increased in value between January and February, while larger houses had continued to suffer.

Chief executive Peter Bolton King said: “This suggests that people who are buying are picking up smaller houses than they may have done previously, possibly because they can only get smaller mortgages. It may also reflect a trend of downsizing.”

The news comes as the Ombudsman for Estate Agents revealed that disputes over house sales had remained almost steady in the face of the property slump.

Sales of three- and four-bed homes may be affected by buyers' limits on mortgage finance

Christopher Hamer, whose job is to resolve arguments between agents and consumers, said that complaints fell by just 3% in 2008 despite a fall in activity of around 60%.

During the year, he saw 1,043 new cases, a 20% increase on the previous year and a 78% increase on 2006.

He said the workload was “surprising” and that he expects most of his work to come from the rental sector this year.