Property prices fell across the country at the start of the year, with the weighted average median values of houses dropping by 2.2% and other dwellings by 1.4%, according to the latest research from the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA).

REIA Real Estate Market Facts for the March 2019 quarter showed a continuing decline in the market since June 2018 for both house and other dwellings.

The weighted average median price for houses for the eight capital cities declined to $722,028 over the quarter, with prices decreasing in all capital cities except for Adelaide and Darwin.

The weighted average median price for other dwellings, meanwhile, decreased to $568,584 over the quarter, with prices sliding in all capital cities except for Adelaide and Hobart.

“The quarterly decline in volume of both investor and owner-occupied finance of 20.7% and 21.6%, respectively, following the imposition of prudential controls by APRA and changes in banks’ lending criteria post the Hayne Royal Commission have contributed to this outcome,” said REIA President Adrian Kelly.

The research found that the recent drop is the largest quarterly decline since March 2010 for owner-occupied finance and the largest decline since March 2004 for investor finance.

The median rent for three-bedroom houses rose or remained steady over the quarter in all capital cities except Darwin, where there was a drop. The median rent for two-bedroom other dwellings also either increased or remained steady in all capital cities except Darwin.

The weighted average vacancy rate for the eight capital cities slid to 2.8% during the March quarter, suggesting a slight tightening of the rental market.

Kelly said, though, that there are signs implying that the market is heading for stabilisation. “With the election out of the way and no change in property taxation, a cut in official interest rates in June and the possibility of a further cut later this year we should see the market, which is already showing signs that the rate of price falls is declining, stabilise,” he said. “The rate cut, unlike the last series of cuts in 2015 and 2016 which stimulated investor activity, will benefit first home buyers who have seen their numbers decrease nationally to 23,403 in the March quarter 2019, down 19.7% for the quarter and a decrease of 11.6% compared to the corresponding quarter in 2018.”