House prices in Bradford plummeted nine per cent during 2012 – the biggest fall among English cities, a national study has found.

And estate agents have warned that sellers need to be more realistic when pricing their homes, with properties in some areas of the district dropping in value by 40 per cent in four years.

Building society Nationwide, which produced the national report, said yesterday that prices were likely to remain flat or edge lower still during 2013.

Its study found evidence that the North-South divide in England is widening, with the price of a typical home in the South now standing at a new high of about £95,000 more than in the North, representing a two per cent increase compared with the end of 2011.

John Watts, a director at Robert Watts estate agents, with offices across Bradford, said that since 2007 house prices locally had dropped between 15 and 20 per cent, with some houses dropping by a staggering 40 per cent in four years.

“I was in Holme Wood this week and some properties have dropped by 40 per cent in last four years, and that is a phenomenal drop,” he said.

“There are still a lot of repossessions and buy-to-let houses which are bringing prices down overall.

Mr Watts, who is on the executive committee of Bradford and District Auctioneers’ and Estate Agents’ Association, added: “I can’t see it dropping further because a lot of places have taken the hit already, but I am surprised by the further nine per cent drop.

“It does depend where the figures come from and whether it is from remortgages or completions.”

David Wilford, chief executive of Holme Christian Community in Holme Wood, said that he knew of one seller in Holme Wood who had to sell their property for £37,000, which was nearly £23,000 below the original £59,950 asking price.

“People are having to sell it at that and you have private landlords trying to sell up because of pressure of them trying to get their rent,” he said.

Across the UK, house prices fell by 0.1 per cent month-on-month in December, and the monthly decline meant that at £162,262 on average, house prices dropped by one per cent over 2012 – reversing a one per cent increase recorded in 2011.

Yorkshire and Humberside was the weakest-performing English region for house-price growth, with prices edging down by 2.5 per cent over the year.

Patrick McCutcheon, head of residential at the Ilkley branch of estate agents Dacre, Son & Hartley, said: “You have a two-tier market of competitive and realistic sale prices, and those who are realistic are achieving success.

“Those who are over-optimistic are finding frustration that buyers are not responding. Buyers react to prices.”

James Watts, another director of Robert Watts estate agents, said that those motivated to sell, with a realistic asking price and using the right estate agent achieved success.

“If you tick all those boxes and get those three things right, there is a very good chance of selling in this market,” he said.

“The market in Bradford is okay and there are buyers out there.”