Upbeat housing data encouraging to investors

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Real estate investors are likely to be happy with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics House Price Index which shows house prices growing plus signs of rising rental rates and low vacancies across all Australia's cities. The March quarter figures show city house prices increased 1.1% in the March quarter 2007, consistent with the same rise in the December quarter 2006. The biggest mover was Hobart, where prices rose 3.8% during the quarter, in Brisbane they were up 2.9%, while Darwin experienced growth of 2.8%. Perth prices continued the upward march, moving on 2.1%, Adelaide saw a 1.7% increase, Melbourne 1.5% and Canberra 1.2%. The only city to see a fall in prices was Sydney which shed 0.4%. On an annual basis, property in Perth was the biggest gainer with a 32% house price increase in the year to March 2007. Brisbane added 10.2% - the highest growth in the market since the property boom and the first time the city hit double digit growth since September 2003. Hobart has also recorded a strong showing for the year with house prices rising by 10.6%. Tim Lawless, national research director with Colliers PRD said: "Double digit growth has come sooner than we'd expected in several of Australia's capital cities. Investors are now a significant force in the marketplace, which is a very positive sign considering the share market is still performing very well." Sydney's increase during the year has been a modest 1.5% but Lawless believes Australia's largest city has turned the corner and will become increasingly attractive to investors. "The latest figures further reinforce the fact that Sydney has left falling prices behind. Vacancy rates are now at record lows, resulting in fierce competition within the rental market. With the market now out of the bottom of the cycle, investors are viewing Sydney real estate with renewed and growing enthusiasm," says Lawless.

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