Australian families are being priced out of the property market by record numbers of highly paid skilled workers arriving from overseas.

Research by The Sunday Telegraph has revealed for the first time how skilled immigrants - predominantly from Britain, India and China - are forcing house prices to some of the highest levels in the world when compared with average incomes.

Almost 115,000 permanent skilled visas were issued last year, compared with just over 40,000 in 1998-99 - an increase of 187 per cent.

During the same period, the median house price rose 168 per cent, from $156,600 to $420,600.

Although the number of migrants is relatively low compared with total property transactions, which have averaged 500,000 a year over the past 10 years, experts say property-price inflation is driven not by what the average buyer can afford to pay, but by the highest bidder.

And because skilled migrants command above-average salaries, they pay above-average prices. As a result, a relatively small number of highly paid buyers can have a disproportionate effect on house prices.

Theres no question the number of skilled migrants is a key factor in driving up prices, John Edwards, of property monitor Residex, said.
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