By Robert Carry

Historically low prices in Australia's hard-hit lifestyle-driven coastal markets offer investors 'a bargain', the head of the rpdata's national research unit has claimed.

"Don't ignore our sea change markets while the flurry to buy property surrounds city markets," said Tim Lawless in a statement today. Lawless added that a difficult past 12 months has meant now could be "the ideal time" to examine resort towns for potential investments.

According to figures released by rpdata, units in some coastal areas have seen dramatic price drops and Lawless believes this may represent a bottoming out of the market. Units in the Gold Coast, with a current median value of $375,026, dropped by 8.4% over the past year. The value of houses in Western Australia's Augusta/Margaret River region plummeted by 13% to $556,026 over the same period.

Despite the strong jump in market activity generally, monthly sales volumes remain
well below the ten-year average, suggesting competition in the market remains slack. "While the conditions appear to be improving, the road to recovery is likely to be a slow one for many of these regions. A distinct lack of tourist visiting
coastal areas has largely contributed to poor market performance," said Lawless.

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