Sales were almost half the level they were in 2007, although they have risen slightly from the record low of 848,000 in 2009.
The problem is a combination of lenders' reluctance to lend money, lack of confidence amongst house-owners and rising unemployment.
Geoff Meen, professor of economics at the University of Reading, told the BBC that the fall reflects several factors.
"If you have very poor levels of credit availability, for first-time buyers and people moving home, you are going to get low levels of sales taking place," he said.
"Given we have very low levels of new construction activity, new transactions reflect sales of new dwellings, so if you have got low starts and completions you are going to get low transactions as well."
The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has predicted that total lending, to both buyers and people remortgaging, will fall again this year, which suggests that sales may fall further.
Original article published here http://www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net/news/news.asp?id=8315