The housing market looks to be cooling, with home prices recording a flat result in September – a result likely to be welcomed by the RBA.

Australian home price rises are easing from their double-digit gains, after most capital cities recorded price falls in September.

Home values were virtually flat last month, rising by just 0.1 per cent, but were up 9.3 per cent for the year to September.

In the 2013/14 financial year prices rose 10.1 per cent.

The weaker result in September was caused by falls in prices in five of the eight capital cities, the RP Data Rismark Home Value Index showed on Wednesday.

Darwin had the biggest fall, followed by Melbourne, Canberra and Perth.

Adelaide recorded the strongest growth at 0.9 per cent.

But home prices in the nation’s largest city remained strong, with Sydney posting a gain of 0.8 per cent in the month and 14 per cent for the year.

Sydney was again the most expensive city to buy a home, with a median price of $655,000, more than double the $300,000 recorded in Hobart.

RP Data research director Tim Lawless said the easing of home prices in September should be welcomed by the Reserve Bank, which has flagged concerns about rises in Sydney and Melbourne as well as speculative property investors.

Last week, RBA governor Glenn Stevens raised the possibility of changing regulations to curb risky lending to property investors.

The central bank is concerned that soaring house prices and rapidly growing investor activity could pose a risk to the economy.

However Mr Lawless said the current phase of home prices rises was not particularly aggressive.

“The big difference over this cycle is that growth has been very much concentrated within the nation’s two largest capital cities and has increased for a longer period than the previous two growth phases,” he said.

The big concern, Mr Lawless said, is that the ratio of housing debt to disposable income had reached a record level at 137 per cent.

“Therefore it is no surprise that the Reserve Bank, together with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, is now contemplating the likelihood of introducing macroprudential tools to reduce some of the exuberance in the housing market and rebalance investor demand,” he said.

Mr Lawless said the big test for the housing market would be whether additional properties coming on to the market are absorbed by a rise in buyers.


* Adelaide – up 0.9 pct

* Sydney – up 0.8 pct

* Brisbane – up 0.7 pct

* Darwin – down 1.0 pct

* Melbourne – down 0.8 pct

* Canberra – down 0.5 pct

* Perth – down 0.4 pct

* Hobart – down 0.3 pct


* Sydney – rose 14.3 pct

* Melbourne – rose 8.1 pct

* Darwin – rose 7.1 pct

* Brisbane – rose 6.4 pct

* Adelaide – rose 5.8 pct

* Hobart – rose 4.6 pct

* Perth – rose 3.2 pct

* Canberra – rose 1.7 pct

Source: RP Data