Australia home prices rise 1.3 pct in March -RPData

SYDNEY, April 2 Mon Apr 1, 2013 7:47pm EDT

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SYDNEY, April 2 (Reuters) - Home prices in Australia's major cities rose for a third straight month in March, the best quarterly performance since mid-2010 and another sign lower mortgage rates are gaining traction in the economy.

Figures from property consultant RP Data-Rismark showed dwelling prices climbed 1.3 percent in March, from February. For the whole of the first quarter, prices were up a solid 2.8 percent, the largest increase in almost three years.

Since bottoming out in May last year, prices have risen by 4.7 percent.

The gains in March were broad based with Sydney prices up 1.5 percent, Brisbane 1 percent, Perth 3.4 percent and Melbourne 0.8 percent.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut interest rates to record-matching lows of 3 percent last year in part to help revive activity in the housing market, and particularly construction.

The central bank holds its April policy meeting on Tuesday and is widely expected to keep rates at 3 percent given evidence that past easing is working through the economy.

Sydney was again the most expensive Australian city with a median home price of A$550,500 ($574,000), followed by Darwin at A$516,713. The median price for all eight capital cities in Australia was A$465,000.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole)

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