House prices across every Australian capital city have risen for the first time in nearly three years, with Sydney's housing market still the most expensive in the country.
The Australian Property Monitors (APM) December Quarterly House Price Report shows the national median house price rose 1.9 per cent over the last quarter in 2012 and 2.1 per cent across the year.
The last time all capital cities recorded house price increases was in March 2010.
The cost of units also jumped 1.6 per cent over the quarter and 2.4 per cent annually.
Perth was 2012's standout performer, with its median house price jumping 6.1 per cent over the year to $560,780.
But it was Sydney that broke new ground in the back-end of last year, with median house and unit prices reaching a record $656,415 and $475,314 respectively.
It followed a 3.4 per cent annual house price increase and 5.6 per cent rise for units.
Melbourne housing market showed more restraint, with house prices up just 0.5 per cent over the year despite a 2.4 per cent jump in the last quarter.
Adelaide has again edged out Brisbane as the most affordable mainland capital in Australia, posting a median house price of $432,309 compared to the Queensland capital's $433,302 average in the year to December.
The city of churches also boasts the country's cheapest apartments, after Hobart experienced a 20.2 per cent surge in its unit prices over the 12 months.
However, Hobart remains the overall most affordable capital for homebuyers with a median house price of $322,420.
APM senior economist Dr Andrew Wilson said while local factors still predominate housing markets, record low interest rates have boosted confidence.
A rising sharemarket and improved international outlook was promising for the local market, he added.
"Looking ahead, activity will depend on the direction of local economies as it is no coincidence that the better performing housing markets in 2012 reflected better performing economies," Dr Wilson said.
"The general economic landscape and prospects remain optimistic, which is unequivocal good news for Australia's recovering housing markets."
APM is a national supplier of property price information to banks, real estate agents, property developers, government agencies, media organisations and consumers.