A press release from the property website Rightmove that dropped into my inbox this morning caught my eye. Of course it was promoting its wares - that's fair enough.

But what I found interesting was the interpretation Rightmove has put on the fact that record numbers of people logged on to the website and sent emails to estate agents over the festive period.

Apparently, "over a million visits were made to the website both on Christmas day and New Years day."

Interpreting this phenomenon, Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove said: "Comparing the first Monday of the year with that of the previous year helps to provide a consistent indication of buyers' intentions for the year ahead.

"The limited availability of finance and nervousness surrounding investments hampered the level of property transactions last year, but 2009 is set to be the year of the quality property deal. Homehunters are aware it's a year of opportunities as our statistics show that enquiries about properties are flooding to estate agents at record levels," he said.

If his implied suggestion is right and the raised website interest translates into a surge in transactions that would be a welcome boost to the housing industry. But I have to point out that if he does believe transactions are set to leap (and I note his use of "quality" and not "quantity") he is in the minority.

For me the surge in interest in Rightmove is more fascinating socially than economically.

I don't know about you, but in our family there is one addict who can't get enough of scanning the site. I console myself in the fact that Rightmove is cheaper than online poker, as it seems equally addictive.

But as far as I can make out the interest in the site is at least as much to spot the drops in prices as it is in weighing up likely properties to turn into a home.

Rather like rubbernecking car-crash watchers, or spectators at tower block demolitions, there seems to be a deep-seated human attraction to seeing things fall apart.

Unless the facts subsequently start to prove me wrong, I for one will not be reading too much into this surge in interest in the Rightmove site as I doubt the interest is backed up by a surge in hard cash ready to find a home.