Housing reservations have fallen by almost two-thirds compared with this time last year, confidential figures from the Home Builders Federation have revealed, writes Tom Bill.

Baseley: Head of HBF

The weekly statistics, which the HBF released to its members but did not publish, showed the number of people putting in offers on houses was down 63% to 430 last week.

The news will be a blow to the industry during what is traditionally a strong selling season. A source who had seen the report said: “The spring figures are the same as they were in January. There has been rapid deterioration in the past four weeks which has led to this massive fall.”

One housebuilder said: “It makes pretty bad reading but confirms our feeling that things have got worse in the past month. It’s awful out there at the moment.”

The HBF, which is led by Stewart Baseley, declined to comment on the figures.

The statistics come in a bad week for the industry. Persimmon put a freeze on new development until liquidity returned to the mortgage market. Although it described its March figures as “flat”, it was understood that reservations in April were 50% down on 2007 levels.

One City analyst said: “April is the month when the real intensity of the credit crunch has come out. Housebuilders are citing mortgage availability as the problem.”