Shortage bumps up price of houses
Moving up: Augustin Andrews and Bessy Alexander. Picture: Steve Ferrier/ The West Asutralian

Bessy Alexander arrived at a Canning Vale home open this month to find another 50 people had the same idea.

The mother of three and first homebuyer had been looking for a house for two years and was determined not to be outbid on the four-bedroom home with manicured lawns and a walk-in-robe.

Undaunted by the fact the crush of people meant she and her husband "couldn't see the house properly", they made an offer $26,000 over the $559,000 starting price, beating 10 rival offers.

In Perth, rising house prices have put the property market back in the spotlight.

Perth's median house price rose 3.3 per cent for the December quarter, the average rent rose 4.4 per cent in the three months to February and WA bucked a national fall in new home loans in January to record a modest increase.

But what does all this mean for the would-be buyer on the sidelines with an eye on the real estate pages wondering if it is the time to buy?

The short answer is it is impossible to say where house prices are going, whether recent gains are sustainable and whether now is a good time to buy.

The longer answer, say Perth industry figures, is if a buyer has the money and can service the debt, the indicators are encouraging. However, buyers should not get into the market "at any cost".

And don't mention the b-word.

"We're in buoyant, not boom times," is how Momentum Wealth managing director Damian Collins put it .He said Perth's residential property market was being driven by a lack of supply and he could not see a circuit-breaker soon.

"New construction is going to take about 12 months to come through," he said. "We certainly are in a rising market and I would expect that to continue for the next couple of years."

Attree Real Estate property consultant Paul Devine said he had seen the market change "dramatically" in the past six months, with an influx of buyers.

"Buyers, in particular firsthomebuyers, need to consider their employment, financial position, and look at a long-term strategy," he said. "But as prices seem to be on the move, maybe delaying could make it more difficult to get into the home you're looking at today, in the future. Having said that, all buyers can anticipate fierce competition as the market deals with a vast undersupply of homes."

Real Estate Institute of WA figures for the week ending March 13 show tightening supply with 8518 properties listed for sale compared with 14,160 for the same week last year.

As well, buyers are being lured by attractive interest rates and high rents that make it cheaper to own than rent in some suburbs.

The West Australian

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