Melbourne's affordable suburbs continue to defy downturn

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Melbourne median house prices slipped 3.1% in the March quarter, with the market confidence shot down by a slowing economy, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

The median house price went from $423,000 in the December 2008 quarter to $410,000 in the March 2009 quarter.

But there were plenty of exceptions, especially among suburbs with a median price under $500,000, where first homebuyers have been driving demand. In those areas, some prices have actually gone up considerably, said REIV CEO Enzo Raimondo.

He cited examples such as Mount Martha, where median house prices increased 16.3%; as well as Keysborough, up 12.9%; Epping, up 8.1%; and Boronia, up 6.9%.

"The fact that 15 of the 20 top growth suburbs for the quarter have a median price under $500,000 is a sign of first homebuyer activity, as the maximum grants are only available for homes under that value," Raimondo said.

Prices for apartments have been more stable than houses, down just 0.8% for the quarter from $363,000 to $360,000.

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