But house prices fall for the third month in a row to £224,060

Property listings website Rightmove processed a record number of searches in the first 10 days of 2012.

Interest in new properties hit record levels in the first days of January, with 44m searches for new homes – up 27% on the same period last year.

But the record level of interest came as the supply of new homes slumped to its lowest level on record.

Rightmove said that an average of less than one new listing per estate-agent outlet per week was recorded between December 11 and January 7 - the slowest rate since it began keeping records ten years ago and about half the pace seen before the credit crunch.

Rightmove also revealed that house prices fell for the third consecutive month in December.

Average asking prices in England and Wales fell 0.8% last month to £224,060, the website said. But in London values gained 0.8%.