House prices flat  as trade-up  buyers rise
Close to everything: Christopher and Sarah Wilkinson and their kids Noah, left, and CJ. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

The Perth suburb of Riverton was the top median house price performer in the March quarter, rising 10.4 per cent to $690,000.

But house prices otherwise had little movement in the quarter, with preliminary Real Estate Institute of WA data revealing an overall price increase of less than one per cent.

While the preliminary median house price grew just 0.7 per cent from $535,000 to $540,000 during the quarter, the most noteworthy shift in Perth's housing market was the types of properties changing hands.

REIWA president David Airey said the trade-up market had picked up, with homes priced between $400,000 and $800,000 making up 66 per cent of sales - up from 64 per cent in the previous quarter.

"With first-homebuyers dropping away and properties over $1 million cooling off, the bulk of turnover for the March quarter was homes in the middle range and this influenced the median price," he said.

But once late and trailing settlements were processed, Mr Airey predicted the median house price would eventually lift to $553,000.

"The median price is quite volatile at the moment, bouncing around because of the varying composition of sales in each month," Mr Airey said.

"With listings going up, sales dropping back and the median price steady, it's possible Perth may have peaked for the time being."

Acton director Travis Coleman said first-homebuyer activity had been slowing since the end of last year, while trade-up buyer activity had showed a strong increase.

"With the first-homeowners grant and the exemption from stamp duty, entry-level buyers have poured into the market in great numbers and this has absorbed most of the available stock in this section of the market," he said.

"It's a slowing market because there are fewer opportunities which have driven more first- timers."

More than 90 homes were sold in Riverton in the year to March.

Sarah and Christopher Wilkinson and their children CJ and Noah moved into a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home in the area in March after six months of searching.

"Our son CJ goes to Queen of Apostles School so we wanted to move closer," Mrs Wilkinson said. "People here are friendly and we are close to everything."

Di Addenbrooke, Pulse Property Group director, said Riverton's riverside lifestyle had been a big drawcard for families wanting to buy in the area.

"It is an old-fashioned suburb in as much as the kids can cycle to school and the parks," she said.

"There is also a broad mix of age groups, with some original homeowners."

The West Australian

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