The latest Irish Life and Permanent House Price Index reports a continuing trend as house prices fall further.

House prices are falling by almost €2,500 a month according to the latest figures.

The House Price Index report published by Irish Life and Permanent says that house prices fell more than two per cent in the first five months of the year. According to the index, the average house price in May was €304,166, a drop of €2,453 compared with the previous month.

For years it's been a national obsession. But now, the house price boom many be ending.

The national price of a house fell by 0.8 per cent in May confirming a downward trend. In December 2006, the average house in Ireland cost €310,600. This figure has now fallen to €304,166. Prices fell by even more in Dublin at 1.2 per cent knocking the average price down to €424,600.

While existing owners may fear a devaluation of their properties, the price reductions is good news for first-time buyers. The average home bought by first-timer buyers in May falling by 1.8 per cent reflecting pre-election uncertainty about stamp duty.

Niall O'Grady, marketing manager at Irish Life and Permanent, believes there is now good value in the market for first-time buyers. After 10 to 12 years of unprecedented growth in house prices there is finally less panic for first-time buyers.

Reaction to these figures varies depending on where you are on that property ladder.

While this might be welcome news for some, many experts say that this is the so called soft landing that had been predicted in the property market. Others watch on for an indication that we could be approaching a full blown property crash.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 29 June 2007. The reporter is Ingrid Miley.