Melbourne home price boom fades

The rapid growth seen in Melbourne's house price over recent times seems to be coming to end, with new research for the six months to March showing that the median house price for Melbourne rose only 2 per cent over the period.

In the September 2001 quarter the median house price was $313,000, rising to just $316,500 by the end of March. In Sydney, where the median house price was $316,000 in September 2001, the median price rose in the March quarter to $372,000. Brisbane also showed strong growth for the quarter.

In the year to March, median house prices grew by between 15 and 23 per cent in every capital city except Darwin and Perth.
The data, released yesterday by the Real Estate Institute of Australia, also show that borrowing for housing investment soared in March and April. More than $4 billion a month was borrowed for investment properties, with total home lending reaching $12.7 billion in April. This represents a 25 per cent increase on lending figures in March and April 2001.

However, the data also shows that rent levels were static over the year to March 2002, with a $10 rise in Melbourne for a three-bedroom house to $210 a week. The median rental price in Sydney for a similar property remained unchanged at $240 a week.
The National Australia Bank's chief economist, Alan Oster, warned of an imminent housing oversupply and stated that property investors should be wary over the next few months.