The cost of residential land continues to rise nationally; with a new report showing the median price of raw land jumped 5.7% to $181,158 in the September 2009 quarter.

The latest residential land report from the Housing Industry Association and, found that the volume of residential land sales surged by a 33% compared to the same period in 2008. The strong growth is expected to lift new home starts in 2010.

Sydney remains the most expensive residential land market in the country with a median price of $290,000. Outside the capital cities, the Richmond Tweed region in NSW recorded the highest median price of $255,000, followed by the Sunshine Coast at $241,500, the Gold Coast at $241,500, and the Illawarra region in NSW at $192,500 according to the report.

Murray Lands region in South Australia is the cheapest place to buy a block of land with median price at just $69,500. Mallee in Victoria came in a close second at $70,000.

"The million dollar question is whether a new home building recovery can be sustained beyond this year. If land is not released in a timely manner in sufficient quantity, then land prices will continue surging and the answer will be a resounding no," said HIA chief economist Harley Dale.