House prices jumped sharply in January, accelerating in some cities. The value of homes in the capital cities rose 1.2 per cent in January, according to property research house RP Data, bringing the gains over the past three months to almost 3 per cent. Homes in capital cities are now almost 5 per cent more expensive than they were at their previous peak in October 2010.
Melbourne was the strongest performer in January, rising 3.2 per cent to take total gains for the 12-month period to 11.9 per cent.
Hobart also posted a sharp rise during January, rising 2 per cent. Over 12 months prices there have fallen 0.2 per cent.
The predicament of the Tasmanian capital sheds light on the fickle fortunes of the national property market.
RP Data research head Tim Lawless described the property market as a “mixed bag” in which runaway prices in Melbourne and Sydney has overshadowed comparatively lacklustre results in other capital cities where price increases were incremental.
“Sydney and Melbourne were the clear drivers for capital gains over the past year, with values up 13.4 per cent and 11.9 per cent respectively over the 12 months ending January 2014,” Mr Lawless said.
“Excluding Perth, every other capital city has recorded growth of less than 5 per cent over the past year.”
Some agents believe a shortage of homes sparked January’s strong result. The month is usually quiet, with few transactions.
“There’s an oversupply of buyers and just not that many homes about. It means that whatever is on the market gets multiple bids . . . you’ve got that extra competition,” Ray White Ascot agent Damon Warat said.
Many agents and vendors choose to hold off attending auctions until after the Australia Day long weekend, which was shown in the number of homes put to auction.
Fewer than 500 homes were put under the hammer during the last week of January, in which 63 per cent sold.