Comparing median house prices is a useful house-hunting tool, helpful when researching which areas have shown attractive capital growth and where bargains are available. Refining that search by comparing the medians of particular towns, types of property and the number of bedrooms increases its usefulness.
Australians love spacious homes - our new homes are among the world’s largest - and the REIV's newly-released median price data shows four-bedroom houses in regional Victoria increased in price more than smaller homes over the final three months of 2013. That median price was up 2.3 per cent on the September quarter, compared with 1.8 per cent for three-bedroom houses and 1.7 per cent for two-bedroom.
Prices for one-bedroom units, favoured by buy-to-rent investors, also increased by 1.7 per cent, but the median price of two-bedroom and three-bedroom units actually fell slightly over the three months.
Comparing medians for different areas shows substantial variations across the state. So, for example, the median price of a four-bedroom house in Ballarat Central increased from $387,500 in September to $432,500 in the December quarter, an increase of 11.6 per cent. In Benalla the September median of $257,500 went up to $278,750 in December - up 8.25 per cent.
But in the state’s south-east, in Bairnsdale, the September median of $299,000 for a four-bedroom house fell to $292,500 in the December quarter - a 2.1 per cent fall.
It is worth noting that median prices include both the highest and lowest sales in a suburb so a few exceptionally high or low sales can have an impact on the median, particularly in towns such as Bairnsdale which recorded fewer than 50 four-bedroom house sales in the year. So areas with negative median price growth in the December quarter may still be a beneficial long term investment.
Factors such as a home's quality, its location and how near it is to amenities such as schools and transport will determine exactly how much it's worth. Local factors such as employment opportunities will also have a bearing on house prices.
All this median price information, including annual capital growth over five years, is available free on the REIV website. To do this, simply click here, choose the property type and then click on the map to see the information for your selected area.