Fewer sea-changers and retirees moving into coastal areas has resulted in a generally sluggish market during the last year, but some areas defied the downturn and held up well, according to rpdata.com.

In Victoria, Greater Geelong (up 2.1%), Port Lincoln in South Australia (up 1.5%) and Newcastle in NSW (up 1.5%) recorded the largest increases in coastal median house prices during the past 12 months. The Gold Coast racked up the greatest volume of unit sales within these coastal regions during the year to January 2010 with 9,091 sales (there were more units sold on the Gold Coast than houses).

The best performers in terms of median unit price growth during the year were Geraldton, Western Australia with an increase of 11.4%, East Gippsland in Victoria rose 7.8%, Bundaberg in Queensland added 4.5 % and NSW’s Newcastle gained 4.3%.

In contrast, the largest falls in median house prices during the last year were recorded in Mandurah, WA (down 7.6%), Byron Bay, NSW (down 6.4 %) and Albany, WA (down 6.3 %).

“Generally speaking the global economic uncertainty, increases to the unemployment rate, the falling value of the share market (which is now recovering) and the loss in value of superannuation has hampered coastal regions more than most,” said Cameron Kusher, a senior research analyst with rpdata.com. “We have seen fewer ‘sea-changers’ and retirees moving to these coastal markets. A large number of non-core assets such as holiday homes were placed on the market as owners looked to reduce their exposure to debt and become more liquid,” he said.

Over the coming 12 months, rpdata.com expects coastal markets to notch up stronger performances than that witnessed during 2009. “Many factors are contributing to a more confident market, including lower unemployment rates, strong consumer and business confidence and still lower-than-average interest rates,” said Kusher.

“The renewed confidence should see demand pick up in these lifestyle regions – and as a result prices should begin to strengthen.”