Buyers are returning to the property market as house prices fell for the third month in a row, figures show today.

The year-long sales recession is coming to an end as more realistic pricing on the part of sellers is tempting potential buyers back to the market, according to property website Rightmove.

At the same time the decision by the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee to cut interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent in July has helped boost people's confidence.

The group said house prices dropped by 0.4 per cent during the five weeks to September 10, contributing to a £3,200 drop in the average cost of a home in England and Wales during the past three months to £195,407.

Annual house price growth also slipped further during the five weeks to just 1.6 per cent, down from 2.1 per cent the previous month.

But with annual wage inflation currently running well above this, at 4.2 per cent, affordability has improved for the fourth month in a row.

Rightmove said the traditionally quiet period during August failed to materialise this year, with estate agents reporting that sales levels during the month had outstripped those seen during both June and July.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, said: "The market has been searching for a level of sustainable pricing at which sales volumes will begin to increase. There are now clear signs that some buyers see this as the time to re-enter the market.

"We may look back and say that the summer of 2005 was the bottom of this cycle in the housing market."

The group said that the average number of homes each estate agent had on their books was unchanged at an average of 72.