[SYDNEY] Growth in home prices across Australia's capital cities picked up pace in September but Sydney came to a near standstill in a sign the hot property market there might be cooling.
Thursday's figures from property consultant CoreLogic RP Data showed dwelling prices across the major cities climbed 0.9 per cent in September, speeding up from 0.3 per cent in August.
Annual growth in home values accelerated to 11.0 per cent, from 10.2 per cent in August. Again, the headline numbers masked wide divisions between cities.
For September alone, Sydney prices edged up a mere 0.1 per cent, while Melbourne rose 2.4 per cent. After declines in August, Canberra bounced back with a 1.0 per cent increase, and Perth rose 0.5 per cent.
RPData head of research Tim Lawless said the slower month-on-month reading for Sydney came at a time when auction clearance rates have slipped to the low 70-per cent range and the number of advertised properties has risen. "Vendors are still enjoying strong selling conditions, but it looks like buyers are slowly regaining some leverage in what has been a very hot market," he said. "While half of Australia's capital cities have seen values rise over the past quarter and year, the other half did not fare as well." Indeed, Sydney and Melbourne boasted annual gains of 16.7 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively, but Perth, Darwin and Adelaide were in the red led by a 3.9 per cent fall for Darwin.
Sydney has the highest median dwelling price of A$785,000 (S$782,561), followed by Melbourne's A$580,000, which equals the median price for the combined eight capital cities.
Regulators have reacted to the bullish conditions in Sydney and Melbourne by tightening lending standards for property investment with the aim of keeping annual growth in investment lending at 10 per cent or less.
There are signs that these measures were working and recent data showed growth in credit advanced for housing investment eased to an annual rate of 10.7 per cent in August, cooling from 11.1 per cent in June, which was the fastest pace in eight years.