THE Australian housing property market is showing signs of recovery, with house prices in all capital cities rising in August. Newly released figures from the two main house price indicators show Hobart and Perth have performed particularly well in a market where each capital experienced solid gains. Both indicators show the re-entry of local first home buyers to the market. News of the gains came as leading economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel predicted the housing market would remain buoyant this year and an annual survey showed house prices surging ahead of inflation in the year up to June this year. The Real Estate Institute of Australia's monthly Market Facts report shows strengthening market activity in August, with annual median house prices rising 0.8 per cent in both Hobart and Perth and 0.7 per cent in Sydney. Canberra and Melbourne show the lowest increase, both 0.1 per cent, Brisbane prices rose 0.6 per cent and Adelaide prices rose 0.3 per cent. Hooker Research's monthly National Price Barometer, which measures changes in monthly median house prices in 33 cities and regions, found impressive gains in many areas of Sydney. Metropolitan Sydney's price was up 1.54 per cent in August compared to July, and the northern and eastern suburbs were up 3.1 per cent to A$330,000 (about HK$1.65 million). L. J. Hooker's New South Wales franchise director, Terry Donovan, said auction clearance rates were up in the past two months. ''Vendors are now able to offer their properties in an atmosphere of greater confidence and with higher prices than a year ago,'' he said. ''The traditional high activity period for real estate from now to Christmas is an excellent opportunity to capitalise on the current market.'' Hooker Research found the monthly median price in metropolitan Brisbane was up 0.78 per cent over the month to A$130,000 and on the Gold Coast it had risen slightly to A$138,000. Metropolitan Melbourne's prices, now 4.40 per cent higher than last year, rose 1.08 per cent in August - the third consecutive monthly increase. In South Australia, where Hookers says the market still lacks confidence, first home prices are beginning to move. The metropolitan monthly median price rose 0.9 per cent to A$111,000. In Western Australia, the barometer shows gains in all metropolitan areas. These were up 2.5 per cent to A$102,000. L. J. Hooker's state director of franchise services, Glyn Withers, said more people were investing - ''a sure sign that the market is on the way up''. Australian Bureau of Statistics housing finance figures for July, just released, show a 30.6 per cent, seasonally adjusted, increase on July last year and a 14.6 per cent rise on June. Grahame Werrell, the REIA's president, predicted the trend would continue because more people were able to afford houses. However, banks warned that the rise, the biggest jump for more than five years, might not be sustained. The chief economist of the Bankers' Trust, Chris Caton, said a decline in immigration and population growth would, inevitably, slow the demand for new housing, a view also held by the Urban Development Institute of Australia. Neil Bird, the institute's president, said demand would slow over the next five years. Queensland, which draws Australians from the recession-hit south, would be the only state likely to better its housing starts average of the past 10 years. ''Overseas migration has a great impact on housing demand and it will be necessary for the UDIA to lobby for changes to the immigration policy,'' Mr Bird said. However, economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel said pent-up demand in Melbourne and Sydney would push up house prices by 19 per cent in the period to 1995. All markets would achieve a supply-demand balance in 1994-95, it said. BIS Shrapnel's chief economist, Frank Gelber, said the signs of gradual improvement in the residential property market presented investors with extraordinary opportunities - so long as they were brave. Sydney and Melbourne provided the most opportunities because market rises there had been delayed, Mr Gelber said. However, sustained construction levels could result in an oversupply in two years, he said. There was good news for investors already in the housing market in the REIA's Annual Review of Major Residential Property Markets in Australia. The report shows median prices in all capital cities, except Sydney, rose faster than inflation in the year to June 1993. Sydney's rose 1.8 per cent - the same as the Consumer Price Index. The biggest gains were in Hobart (8.9 per cent), Canberra (7.3 per cent), Perth (5.7 per cent), Adelaide (4.1 per cent) and Melbourne (3.7 per cent).