Prices have fallen for the seventh consecutive month according to the latest figures from property research experts Hometrack.

According to the figures, prices are now almost 3% below their peak last June, although the latest decline of 0.4% is the smallest fall in four months, suggesting that house prices may now be stabilising.

Market activity fell further this month, the survey showed, with agreed sales down by a further 13%, and houses now taking longer to sell. Demand for properties is continuing to slow compared with supply, and buyers are now negotiating an average of 7.3% off asking prices, more twice the average discount last April.

Prices did rise over 2004, but by just 0.9%, with the growth during the first half of the year largely cancelled out by the declines in the second half. With interest rates forecast to remain stable and mortgages still relatively cheap, Hometrack believes demand should improve by the end of the year, and forecasts that prices will end the year at their current level.

John Wriglesworth, Hometrack?s Housing Economist, said: ?The start of 2005 hasn?t brought much good news on the housing market front. House prices have fallen for seven consecutive months and the volume of sales is markedly down on previous months. We are yet to see signs of improvement. House price decreases have been less than previous months, but it isn?t until June that we are likely to see a recovery with house prices moving upwards.?