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Australia home prices fall for seventh month, led by big cities

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Australia's property prices fell for a seventh straight month in April, as the heat continues to come out of residential markets in the nation's two largest cities.

[SYDNEY] Australia's property prices fell for a seventh straight month in April, as the heat continues to come out of residential markets in the nation's two largest cities.

National housing prices fell 0.1 per cent in April from March, CoreLogic Inc data released on Tuesday showed. The pace of decline in Sydney's once-sizzling market quickened, with values falling 0.4 per cent last month, to be down 3.4 per cent from a year earlier. Prices in Melbourne also fell 0.4 per cent last month.

Prices across the eight state and territory capitals fell 0.3 per cent in April from a year earlier, the first decline since November 2012.

Tighter mortgage-lending standards, regulatory restrictions on investor loans and affordability constraints have weighed on the Sydney market, with few predicting a quick rebound in prices. As prices in the largest cities have soared out of reach of many buyers, regional areas are now outpacing the capitals.

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"The latest trends are virtually the opposite of what we have become used to over the past five or so years," CoreLogic's head of research Tim Lawless said.

"Regional areas are now outperforming the capitals, and units are outperforming houses. Also, the most expensiveproperties are now showing weaker conditions than the more affordable ones."

In the 12 months to the end of April, regional values climbed 2.4 per cent, according to CoreLogic. Combined capital city values appreciated at an annual rate of 6.8 per cent in the past five years, almost double the annual rate across the combined regional markets of 3.5 per cent.

Picturesque Hobart, the capital of slow-paced Tasmania state, continues to be a favorite with both investors and owner-occupiers. It was the only city where home values rose more than 1 per cent in April. At A$430,138 (S$430,248), the average property costs less than half its equivalent in Sydney.

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