Real Estate

An update on Australian property prices

By Dr Shane Oliver
Head of Investment Strategy and Economics and Chief Economist, AMP Capital Sydney, Australia

In some states the property market is up, while in others it’s down - if you’re confused by what’s really happening to Australian house prices, read and watch on. 

Driven by falling markets in Sydney and Melbourne, national house prices fell 0.1% in May, according to figures from property analytics group Core Logic. For the year from 31 May 2017 to 31 May 2018, prices were down 0.4% marking the first annual fall since October 20121.

 But AMP Capital’s Head of Investment Strategy and Economics and Chief Economist Dr Shane Oliver says despite the falls, talk of a property market crash is overdone.

Sydney and Melbourne

Prices in Sydney fell 0.2% in May, while Melbourne prices fell 0.5%. In Sydney, the median house price is now $871,454 while in Melbourne it sits at $717,0202.

And depending on whether you’re a buyer or seller in those market, there’s more good or bad news to come.

“We expect prices in Sydney and Melbourne to fall another 4% or so this year, another 5% next year and to still be falling in 2020. Overall, Sydney and Melbourne are likely to see a top-to-bottom fall of around 15% spread out to 2020,” Shane says.

But in the other capital cities, where the housing markets haven’t boomed in recent years to the same extent as Sydney or Melbourne, the forecast is different.

Perth, Darwin and Canberra

Prices in Perth and Canberra were both down 0.1% in May, while Darwin prices were down 0.2%3.

However, all three markets are up for the quarter, and Shane says that prices in Perth and Darwin look to be at or close to bottoming, while Canberra is likely to see moderate price growth in the months to come.

Hobart

Still the star performer, Hobart property continued its upwards surge in May, rising another 0.8%. Prices there are up 12.7% for the year from 31 May 2017 to 31 May 20184.

“The Hobart market remains very strong and the boom in Hobart is likely to continue for a while yet,” Shane says.

Brisbane and Adelaide

In Brisbane property prices rose 0.2% in May, while in Adelaide they performed even better, up 0.5%, with Shane forecasting more moderate price growth to come for both of these cities5.

Regional areas v capital cities

Taken as a whole, the combined capital cities markets fell 0.2% in May, but regional locations are performing better – when combined, regional markets saw prices rise by 0.2% in May, with Geelong and Ballarat in Victoria, the Southern Highlands, Newcastle and Coffs Harbour in NSW and Queensland’s Sunshine Coast among the best performers6.

“Home prices in regional centres are likely to hold up better with continuing modest growth as, generally speaking, they haven’t had the same boom as Sydney and Melbourne and so offer much better value and much higher rental yields,” Shane says.

What’s driving the property market?

Shane says that a combination of factors is behind the falling markets, including: 

  • Investors, people looking for interest-only loans and borrowers with constrained incomes and high expenses finding it more difficult to get finance, as banks have tightened their lending criteria due to pressure from regulators,
  • Tougher restrictions being imposed on foreign buyers by state and federal governments, 
  • Rising levels of housing supply, and
  • Buyers with more realistic price expectations.  

Shane says that interest rates are likely to remain at their current levels until 2020 but adds that with “home price weakness at levels where the Reserve Bank of Australia started cutting rates in 2008 and 2011, we can’t rule out the next move in rates being a cut rather than a hike”.

He says that unless interest rates or unemployment unexpectedly skyrocket talk of a property market crash has been overdone.

1-6 Core Logic, Hedonic Home Value Index, May 2018. 

Important note: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this article, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This article is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.

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