A survey of the property market carried out for the Irish Independent shows that house prices have continued to fall over the past four months.

The survey, carried out among 150 estate agents, showed that prices of new homes fell by 9% since the last survey in April, while second-hand prices were down 8%. This means prices in both categories have fallen by almost 45% from peak levels.

The survey found that sales activity had continued to increase since April, though not as quickly as in the first four months of the year. 55% of estate agents reported an increase in activity since April, with 20% seeing a decrease. The April figures were 71% and 11% respectively.

The report said that current buying was confined to the first-time buyer market, with stamp duty and negative equity holding back activity among existing owner-occupiers.

Estate agents also reported that many buyers were having problems securing mortgage finance.

76% of estate agents expects an increase in sales activity to increase in 12 months' time, the same figure as in the last survey. But the percentage expecting a fall in activity rose from 1% in April to 10% in this survey.