SYDNEY Feb 3 Home prices across Australia's
major cities rose 1.2 percent in January, from the previous
month, extending a strong run that has boosted household wealth
Figures from property consultant RPData-Rismark showed
overall dwelling prices were up 9.8 percent compared to January
last year, led by a 13.4 percent jump in Sydney. Prices in
Melbourne followed with a gain of 11.9 percent while Perth saw
an increase of 6.9 percent.
Home values were now 4.8 percent higher than their previous
peak in October 2010.
While higher prices have stirred talk of a bubble, they are
considered by policymakers as necessary to encourage a
much-needed revival in home building.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which cut interest
rates to an historic low of 2.5 percent last August, has been
counting on home construction to provide vital support to the
economy as a long boom in mining investment cools.
The central bank holds it first policy meeting of the year
on Tuesday and is widely expected to hold rates steady given
signs that they are working to revive demand in the economy.
"The sustained growth in dwelling values is another factor
the RBA is likely to consider when deliberating on any movement
in the cash rate," said RP Data research director Tim Lawless.
Still, Lawless doubted prices could continue to rise at the
current pace given very low rental yields, increasing
affordability constraints and higher levels of housing supply.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)