Asking prices collapsed 3.3 per cent in just a month across the UK, with London seeing a four per cent dive.
The tumble is the steepest December decline since Rightmove began its survey a decade ago, outstripping the credit crunch-fuelled dive seen at the end of 2007.
The pre-Christmas market malaise spread as far as housing strongholds in Kensington and Chelsea, where asking prices sank 3.9 per cent over the month – though they remained at a country-beating average of £2,153,658.
Even after these month-on-month falls, asking prices were up 1.4 per cent across the whole country compared to a year ago, driven by a 6.8 per cent climb in London.
And this broader picture of steady improvement drove Rightmove director Miles Shipside to predict a positive outlook for 2013. “There are several reasons for slightly more optimistic market next year,” he said.
“There is a positive combination of lenders with greater funds to lend and buyers with a five-year itch to move.”
But unlike 2012, London is unlikely to be the driving force of the market, with asking price growth in the city down to three per cent through 2013, on Rightmove forecasts.
Instead, UK asking price growth of two per cent will achieved through a less patchy picture in the rest of the country, the property website predicts. Asking prices in the South will grow in line with London, it says, while the North will see marginal upward movement of around one per cent through the year.
Continued supply shortage will be behind the growth, Rightmove says.