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LONDON-The rat run has begun. Consumer demand for property looks set to fall by 25% this autumn and the current global crisis has had an immediate impact on homebuyer confidence, according to new research from mortgage bank Alliance & Leicester.

The findings are from A&L’s quarterly ‘movingimproving’ index which tracks people’s intentions to buy property in the future. Over the last 12 months, the proportion of respondents intending to move house has remained constant–at just under 10%–and these figures have correlated with a property market that has defied commentators’ predictions of a slowdown by continuing to grow. The latest figures, however, show that for the first time there has been a major downturn in people’s intentions to move house in the next 12 months, with a fall to 6%.

The A&L findings are also the first to suggest that the impact of the current global crisis reaches beyond the equity investment markets and is set to cause a slump in homeowner confidence. The initial research was conducted during the week ending 9 September and a repeat of the same research was undertaken week commencing 12 September. The findings from these two GB representative samples of 2000 people reveal that in the space of a week, the proportion of people intending to move house in the next 12 months fell from 7% to 5% and that demand for property in London almost halved from 12% to 7%.

Geoff Mozley, Head of Mortgages & Insurance at Alliance & Leicester commented: ‘This is the first time in a year that our on-going research has pointed to a significant decline in homebuyer confidence in the coming months. The current global crisis appears to have had an immediate impact although it is too early to say whether this is a knee-jerk reaction or a true decline in confidence that may have an impact over the longer term. It appears that a significant number of people in their 20′s will still be driving demand for property, which is likely to inject some buoyancy into the market.’

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