Sydney regains top position as Australia's biggest property market

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After languishing for two years, Sydney's property market has recaptured its position as Australia's biggest property market thanks to the sharp increase in sales transactions, according to the latest sales figures from RP Data.

During 2007, Sydney recorded 94,500 sales - the largest volume of transactions of all capital cities - accounting for about 28.4% of all house and unit sales on the Australian mainland. This puts Sydney ahead of its rival Melbourne which saw 93,000 sales, or 27.9% of all sales.

Melbourne had knocked Sydney out of the top position during 2005 and 2006 when it recorded higher sales, even though the city has 200,000 fewer properties.

"Sydney is bouncing back," said Tim Lawless, national research director with RP Data. "Since sales volumes hit rock bottom during 2005, the number of transactions in the market have increased by 22% and they're still trending upwards. With more investors circling around the outskirts of the city, we may see volumes continue to increase during 2008 despite a tightening monetary environment."

However, the two-year stint trailing behind Melbourne in 2005/06 showed the relative weakness of the Sydney market during that period.

Lawless added that sales volumes in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane are currently approaching the highs achieved during 2002/03. He noted that Adelaide is just 6% shy of its high recorded in 2002, Melbourne is 10% off its peak and Brisbane is 14% lower than its top performance.

Despite its strong sales data, the proportion of sales in Sydney is still considerably lower than 10 years ago when it recorded 36.7% of all residential properties sold in Australia. "Sydney's market share has gradually been whittled down, mainly due to the progressively larger number of sales recorded in Brisbane," said Lawless. "The rise of Brisbane as a property market runs in parallel with the region's strong population growth which has spurred ongoing development and investment in the city's property market."

Lawless noted that the total number of sales in the city jumped by 80% over the last 10 years.

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