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Surprising surge in Oz property prices in last quarter of 2009, latest data shows

Median residential property prices rose 12.1% during the year and 5% in the last three months of 2009, the latest data from Australian Property Monitors shows.
The property research firm said that first time buyer demand sustained the market in the early part of the year, but upgraders and investors drove the overall result for 2009. Activity in the more expensive suburbs benefited from the surprisingly resilient jobs market experienced late last year and a strongly rising share market.
‘The price growth seen in the more expensive suburbs in 2009 has largely been a recovery of the price falls that have occurred since late 2007 and early 2008,’ explained APM's economist Mathew Bell.
‘This top end recovery has been completed in most capitals, with median house prices surpassing pre-global financial crisis highs for the first time in the December quarter in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth,’ he added.
Bell said the extent of last year'’ median house price growth had come as a surprise as no one foresaw the economic recovery being so strong and that fuelled the top end of the market. The fact that the December quarter was as strong as the three months earlier was also surprising. ‘The December quarter was a surprise. There is an indication that not only was there a general price rise, but the more expensive properties were selling as well,’ he said.
Brisbane did not see as much growth as Melbourne, where the median house price increased by 18.5%.  In Sydney, house prices rose by 12.1% on average after the third consecutive quarter of growth.
Bell predicted house prices would gain more in Brisbane and Perth during the next 12 months as they are still lagging the big capitals in terms of property prices. But rising interest rates and a full expiry of the first home owner boost at the end of December were likely to continue to slow activity for first home buyers.
  He expects moderate price increases across all sectors of the market in the first half of this year but the medium to long term outlook for property prices would remain strong.