Perth  median property price soars
Brendan Swale and Jasmine Sands spent 18 months looking for a house to buy. Picture: Iain Gillespie/The West Australian

Perth property prices have set a record, with the median house price hitting $510,000.

It tops the previous record of $505,000 set in 2010.

But experts poured cold water on expectations of a new housing boom, saying the pace of recent gains may not be sustainable and voicing concerns about WA's continuing economic strength.

Real Estate Institute of WA figures for the March 2013 quarter show a 2 per cent increase in the median price since December.

REIWA president David Airey said the growth was driven by an increase in turnover and more houses being sold above the median price.

"While the proportion of sales under $500,000 has fallen, there was a marked increase in sales between $500,000 and $1 million," he said.

"The $600,000 to $700,000 range was the most dominant price point above the median during this period and is a healthy illustration of consumer confidence through trade-up activity."

Homes in the $600,000 to $700,000 range and the $800,000 to $1 million range combined represented about 20 per cent of sales in the three months to March 31. The $400,000 to $450,000 range was the leading price range in the overall market, representing 12 per cent of sales.

AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver said he did not expect a return to boom conditions for Perth's housing market.

"The driver in WA was the mining boom and that's slowing down," he said.

"House prices are now at a high level to people's income. And of course you've got this added uncertainty about how strong the WA economy will be in the next couple of years."

Momentum Wealth managing director Damian Collins said the market was strong and well-priced properties were selling quickly but conditions remained "a long way from the frenetic levels we saw in 2005 and 2006".

"What we are seeing is a catch-up period of growth after almost six years of flat prices," he said.

"Over that time the average income in WA has risen quite reasonably and, with low interest rates, people can afford to pay more.

"I expect good returns for property owners and investors in the next two years but the global financial crisis has left long-term memories and, while the future of the WA economy looks very bright long-term, I don't expect to see any return to the property market conditions of 2005 and 2006."

Acton Real Estate managing director Graeme Baxter said the March quarter was shaping as one of the best in years as about 1000 people a week moved to WA and the market showed positive signs.

Brendan Swale and Jasmine Sands spent about 18 months looking for a house to buy before snapping up their Bayswater duplex in February.

The Perth couple, 29 and 31, said they made offers for several properties before their most recent offer was accepted.

"We were sort of surprised in a way," Mr Swale said. "We just put in an offer and wouldn't budge on it. After looking for a house for so long the first couple of times we were really nervous but after a while you're so blase about it."

Although they would not have realised it at the time, the couple bought a home in one of the most popular suburbs for the March quarter and in one of the most popular price brackets.

They paid above Perth's median house price of $510,000 for the property, which is a short drive from the Mt Lawley and Maylands shopping and cafe precincts.

The West Australian

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