The property market should bottom out during late 2009/early 2010, according to calculations by Knight Frank, and sales volumes are due to start rising before then.

Looking ahead Knight Frank estimates that UK residential prices are set to fall in total 30% from their peak, taking values back to the level they were at in September 2003. Sales volumes are also due to hit their low this year, at just 30% of their long-term average, but will recover to 60% of this average by the second half of 2009, the agent has said.

Overall, the report states that prices will take some time to recover to their 2007 peak, a process which will be led by central London in 2012, complete by 2015, and concluded by Northern Ireland in 2019.

Liam Bailey, Knight Frank head of residential research explained: ‘Our recovery picture is based on the assumption that mortgage providers will adopt a far more conservative lending approach once the credit crunch unravels. However, it is also worth noting that we do not have the oversupply problems of Spain and the US, and, indeed, a shortage of housing will become more apparent with time. Whilst a market peak is hard to spot, so too is the bottom of the market. There are lots of buyers watching the residential market very closely, and they are desperate not to miss the floor when it comes. Equity backed investors are already active, and more are waiting for prices to correct in the forthcoming months.’

Winners in the current property market will be those who have equity and can buy over the next six months the study adds. Those requiring significant finance will be unlikely to be quick enough on their feet but vulture funds and cash-rich individuals are set to be the very first to benefit.