The economic downturn over the past year is now a distant memory for most Australians, who believe the housing market is set to take off - again.

The survey conducted by the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) and BankWest found that almost three in four  (73%) of respondents expect house prices to rise- the highest level of confidence in more than three years.

Phil Naylor, CEO of The MFAA said confidence in the housing market is not only pre-GFC - it's back where it was during the height of the housing boom.

However, he warned that the recent interest rate increases are negatively impacting households.

The proportion of respondents who are struggling to meet their mortgage repayments have increased to 15.9% from 11.7% in May 2009.

Western Australia has the highest proportion (25%) of respondents claiming to be struggling, while NSW has the least number of people struggling to meet repayments at just 20.6%.

"The survey suggests that Australia's two-speed housing market is alive and well," said Dean Gillespie, head of mortgages at Bankwest. "It would appear that when it comes to the housing market and perceptions of economic conditions, NSW is leading the charge for the first time in years." 

About half of the respondents believe now is a good time to buy a new home, with almost two-thirds (63%) of South Australians saying now is a good time to buy. Queensland was the least optimistic at just 41.4% of respondents believing it was a good time to buy.

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