Have you missed Australia's property boom?

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The rapid growth of property prices over the past two years may be coming to an end, according to a leading property expert.

Tim Lawless, RP Data national residential research director, predicted that the strong run in Australia's property markets is likely to peak during the first half of 2008 amid higher interest rates, tightening credit markets and the gloomy outlook for the global economy.

Lawless noted that one of the most standout periods in the history of the Australian property market was when value growth reached 12.5% nationally during the year ending November 2007 -almost double that of the same period in 2006.

"We'll see multiple factors impacting on the market as we travel through 2008," said Lawless. "These include a lift in cash rates underpinned by inflation, banks acting independent of the RBA to lift rates based on rising credit costs, and the threat the sub-prime crisis has had on the overall US economy - particularly its share market."

Lawless said that based on these issues, the expected peak in the first half of 2008 is likely to see growth rates slow down to around 15%. However, he said he does not think a crash is likely.

"It's rare for a property market to crash. Rather, growth is typically controlled. We see no reason why this wouldn't be the case during this cycle also. This merely means that national growth in property values will taper back to more sustainable levels during the second half of 2008."

Lawless also predicted that by the end of 2008, the property markets will slow further to between 9% and 10% nationally.

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