Australia's housing downturn propelled by elite urban areas

Sydney's dwelling values, for houses and apartments, dived by 3.2 per cent in the March quarter while Melbourne suffered a 3.4 per cent decline during the same period.

The data released on Monday also highlighted that rents dropped across Australia's capital cities over 12 months - down 0.1 per cent - for the first time since CoreLogic started tracking the metric in May 2005, with average Sydney rental prices falling 3.1 per cent over the year.

Australian housing prices have continued to fall, but at a slightly slower pace in the last four months, according to property analysts CoreLogic.

"No doubt, some prospective buyers and sellers are delaying their housing decisions until after the election, however, there is no guarantee that certainty will improve post-election, considering the impact of a wind back to negative gearing and halving of the capital gains tax concession is largely unknown".

CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said there were some signs that the rate of decline was starting to ease.

The quarterly trend in dwelling values is showing a similar pattern, with six of the eight capitals recording a fall in values over the March quarter, led by Darwin (-3.9%), Melbourne (-3.4%) and Sydney (-3.2%).

Brisbane (-1.1pc) and Adelaide (-0.5pc) values recorded smaller declines, while Canberra was flat.

Perth prices dropped by 0.4 per cent to be 7.6 per cent lower over the year, while in Darwin they fell by 1 per cent to be 3.2 per cent down over the past 12 months.

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Markets where values peaked much earlier have shown a more substantial downturn.

Sydney and Melbourne were again the hardest hit, falling 0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively. But falls were extending to other parts of the country.

"Sluggish rental conditions are likely the result of higher rental supply coupled with a reduction in rental demand", Mr Lawless said.

Sydney's unit market suffered a hit through March, with values down by 1.2 per cent to be 8.9 per cent lower over the past year.

"While any cuts to the cash rate may not be passed on in full, a lower cost of debt will provide some positive stimulus for the housing market", he said.

While both cities were home to Australia's 10 worst performing housing markets, the rate of decline is slowing in Sydney and Melbourne.

Domain says it takes the average first home buyer three years less time to save for a deposit on a house in Stonnington West, Port Phillip and Boroondara than a year ago.

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