House prices across Australian capital cities are tipped to ease after posting their slowest gains in three years during last year.

Prices ended the year flat in December, with falls in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide offsetting gains in the nation's remaining five capitals, CoreLogic RP Data's latest home value index shows.

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Overall growth was a touch below the previous year with prices rising 7.8 per cent to a median of A$595,000 ($636,000) - the slowest since 2013 when they rose nearly 10 per cent.

Sydney remains the most expensive, with prices up 11.5 per cent to A$800,000 - more than double what a property will cost you in Hobart.

Prices in Perth and Darwin went backwards, while Melbourne and Brisbane pushed higher.

CoreLogic RP Data head of research Tim Lawless says with the softening of the housing market boom in the final months of 2015, "more sedate" conditions were expected early this year.

"Throughout 2016 we may see further moderate declines in Sydney and Melbourne, however considering population growth has remained strong in these areas and economic conditions are very healthy in these cities, we would be surprised if dwelling values fell materially before conditions start to level," he said.

Mr Lawless tipped Brisbane to be a star performer this year, with rental yields much higher than Sydney and Melbourne and prices much more affordable.

Darwin and Perth are expected to again underperform amid ongoing economic uncertainty, but Mr Lawless expects price falls to ease.

Economists believe that while mortgage rates remain low, home price growth will be sluggish in 2016 because of tighter lending standards and lower auction clearance rates.

CommSec chief economist Craig James noted total returns on Australian homes rose 11.8 per cent last year but he expects them to wind back to 7 per cent this year.

Oz house prices 2015

• Sydney: up 11.5% to $800,000
• Melbourne: up 11.2% to $610,000
• Brisbane: up 4.1% to $475,000
• Adelaide: down 0.1% to $420,000
• Perth: down 3.7% to $510,000
• Hobart: down 0.7% to $350,000
• Darwin: down 3.6% to $520,000
• Canberra: up 4.1% to $585,000
• Combined capital cities: up 7.8% to $595,000
(Source: CoreLogic RP Data)