Dwindling market activity and a further drop in prices over the last month have led Rightmove.co.uk to predict a buyers’ market for 2005.

According to the property website?s latest figures, prices have dropped for the third successive month by 0.1%. Prices have now fallen in five of the last six months, and have dropped by 3.4% since their peak last July.

Activity is at a historic low, according to the figures, with numbers of properties coming on to the market down by half on the previous month. Houses are also becoming harder to sell, and are now spending an average of 87 days on the market, compared with last summer?s average of just 53 days.

Many vendors have decided to take their houses off the market, leading to a slight fall in the average number of properties on estate agents books, Rightmove said. However, choice remains historically high for buyers, with stock levels up 30% on a year ago.

In spite of the downbeat figures, Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, believes a recent surge in the use of their website could mean confidence is returning to the market.

He said: ?You?d think that in a slack market, with many buyers supposedly sitting on their hands, the number of people visiting property websites might decline. On the contrary, we have seen a huge growth in the number of searches for homes for sale, up a massive 66% on this time last year.?

Mr Shipside said that potential buyers are waiting for a ?trigger? to tempt them back into the market, such as further price falls or a decrease in interest rates.