Poor housing affordability in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane had forced an increasing number of first-home buyers to flee the city or remain in regional areas, said Simon Tennent, the association's executive director of housing and economics.
Improved job opportunities in many regional areas - highlighted by the lowest national unemployment rate for 30 years - has encouraged this trend.
'The attraction of the bright lights and the big city, like great job opportunities and that sort of thing, has faded somewhat over the past few years,' Mr Tennent said.
Despite recent weakness in parts of the Sydney housing market, it remains one of the most expensive cities in the world relative to average incomes.
Federal Labor's housing spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, said on Friday that a Labor government would consider a federal role in shared equity schemes to assist people on low incomes to enter the housing market.
Housing costs dim appeal of bright city lights