Property markets across Australia staged a stunning performance over 2009 with most capital cities hitting new highs according to the latest data from Australian Property Monitor (APM).

Melbourne led the charge with 18.5% growth to $517,756 during the past 12 months. Sydney notched up 12.1% growth in median price to $595,745 while Darwin rose 13.5% to $556,295. All other capital cities recorded strong gains except Adelaide with just 2.4% increase in median price.

The national median price jumped by 12.1% over the year, lifted by the dramatic rise in activity in higher priced properties.

Matthew Bell, economist with APM said activity in the more expensive suburbs has been driven by the surprisingly resilient job market experienced in late 2009 and a strongly rising share market. "In the major capitals, the median sale price of houses in the most expensive 50% of suburbs rose by 17.1% from its March quarter lows, compared with a median rise of 9.6% for the bottom half of the market. In December quarter alone, the price growth for the top end almost doubled the growth seen by the remainder of the market.

Bell noted that the top end recovery has been completed in most capitals with median house prices surpassing pre-GFC highs for the first time in the December quarter in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Looking ahead over the medium to long term, Bell said property prices remains strong, as high population growth, rising incomes and a relatively lack of new supply means there will simply be more demand for housing than supply.