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Smaller capitals the best-performed markets over 20 years

Despite property experts focussing on the larger capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne, new research has found that it has been the smaller cities of Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra that have been the strongest-performing property markets over the past two decades.

Property academic, Peter Koulizos, found that since 2002, the smaller capital city housing markets have seen more growth than the larger ones.

Mr Koulizos found that Hobart’s market has grown the most of any capital city in the country in the past two decades, with house values increasing 5.90 times, ahead of Adelaide (4.1) and Canberra (4.08).


While Brisbane’s market increased 4.05 times over that period, followed by Melbourne (3.49) and Sydney (3.48).

“We always hear about the property markets of our two biggest capital cities because a large proportion of our national population live there, but when it comes to the performance over the long-term, they both are well down the leaderboard according to my analysis,” Mr Koulizos said.

“According to the ABS data, Hobart was the star performer by a country mile over the past two decades, which just goes to show that smaller cities as well as major regional areas can be sound property investment locations.”

Mr Koulizos’ analysis found that the median established house price in Hobart was 5.9 times higher in December 2022 than it was in March 2002, with its median price soaring from $123,300 to $727,000 over the period.

Adelaide was second, with the established median house price 4.1 times higher than 20 years ago with its price increasing from $166,000 to $680,000.

Third was Canberra, whose median house price is currently 4.08 times more than it was in March of 2002, with its price growing from $245,000 to $999,000 over the period.

Mr Koulizos said our three biggest capital cities produced incredibly strong median house price increases over the period, as well, with Brisbane’s quadrupling from $185,000 to $750,000.

While Melbourne and Sydney’s more than tripled, increasing from $241,000 to $842,000 and $365,000 to $1.27 million respectively.

Despite the strong results from most cities, Darwin and Perth lagged behind, with their established median house prices 3.16 and 3.05 times higher now than in March 2002.

Darwin’s median house price is now $600,000, up from $190,000, and Perth’s median price is currently $580,000, up from $190,000 two decades ago.

“What these statistics also showed was that every capital city had periods where median house prices fell, rose, or flat-lined because of a variety of economic factors, including two major global events over the time period in the GFC and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Koulizos said.


“As property investment professionals we always encourage property buyers to purchase property as a long-term investment and to do their best to ignore any temporary impacts on median prices or markets more generally. That’s because, as these results show, real estate has a proven history of performance over the decades, with our nation offering a plethora of places – capital city and regional – where homeowners and property investors can strategically purchase property.”


If you would like to chat to us about purchasing an investment property,  or have any other finance and/or property question, the best place to start is to contact us for advice.   We are only an email or phone call away, on 02 8004 2222 or  book an appointment.

Although we are located in Crows Nest, we service clients from St Leonards, Artarmon, Wollstonecraft, Cammeray, Northbridge, Naremburn, Neutral Bay, Greenwich, North Sydney, Waverton to Willoughby and all areas of Greater Sydney.

PS  This article is prepared based on general information. It does not take into account individual financial or property objectives or needs and is not financial product or investment advice.