Price data for August published today by CoreLogic demonstrates that housing markets remain solid across Australia.
The CoreLogic figures for August show that house prices dropped in only two of the eight capital cities. Prices rose in Canberra, Hobart and Darw
House prices also rose during August in the regional areas of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.
Sydney and Melbourne were the only capital cities to record decreases in their house prices during the month.
Overall, house prices nationally fell 0.4%, dragged down by the negative results in the two biggest cities. But there was a small increase during August in regional areas.
In the year to date, house prices remain about 1% higher than at the start of 2020, helped by a 2.3% increase in regional Australia.
House prices remain higher than at the start of the year in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Hobart and Darwin, as well as in the regional areas of NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
Apartments prices are up about 1% nationally in the year to date, boosted by a 2.1% rise in regional Australia and a smaller increase in the combined capital cities.
The HIA-Housing Affordability Index for the June quarter 2020 shows housing in Australia is at its most affordable since 1999.
HIA’s Affordability Index is calculated for each of the eight capital cities and regional areas on a quarterly basis and takes into account the latest dwelling prices, mortgage interest rates and wage developments.
Housing affordability improved in the June quarter across all capital cities.
This improvement in affordability means that it now requires less than 1.2 average incomes to service a mortgage on a median-priced dwelling in Australia’s capitals.
This is a rapid improvement from just three years ago when it required more than 1.4 times the average income to service the same mortgage.
The combination of lower interest rates, slow house price growth and relatively steady wage growth over the past three years have driven this improvement in affordability.
First-home buyers have been snapping up properties with less than $30,000 saved, under the government scheme that allows them to buy with just a 5% deposit, according to new figures published this week.
Median deposit sizes across Australia were as low as $15,500 for first-home buyers in Tasmania, with young buyers using the federal government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme to get into the market in the first half of 2020.
Over the first six months of the scheme — open to 10,000 first-home buyers each financial year — first-home buyers in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory also used the government guarantee to purchase a property with a median deposit of $20,000 or less.
In more expensive markets, savings for first-home buyers climbed to a deposit of about $24,000 in the ACT and $29,000 in both NSW and Victoria – but scheme participants were still able to buy four years earlier than originally planned, according to modelling by the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.
About three-quarters of guaranteed loans were taken up by Australians aged between 18 and 34. with a smaller number of first-home buyers over 40.
One of the key factors keeping prices solid is the absence of major supply in the market. And this is likely to be exacerbated by a significant decline in the construction of new apartments in the next few years.
A new report suggests that Apartment supply will dry up over the next three years as building completions drop from their present levels in Sydney by 81 per cent and in Melbourne by 75 per cent, as projects are delayed or cancelled because of the pandemic slowdown.
The State of the Market for Residential Apartments report for the first half of 2020 by consultancy firm Charter Keck Cramer also expects a decline in the number of completed apartments in Brisbane, where supply is forecast to drop about 90 per cent by 2023.
Charter Keck Cramer director of residential research and strategy Angie Zigomanis said the expected drop in apartment completions would help to prevent apartment prices and rents from falling.
Zigomanis says: “The apartment market could see a relief from lower supply and starts, which will place upward pressure on rents, yields and prices, and in turn should kick-start off-the-plan demand.
“If a quick recovery in net overseas migration to pre-COVID levels occurs, the sharp reduction in new dwelling completions from FY2022 is likely to cause a significant dwelling deficiency to re-emerge.”
Australians living abroad are starting to return home amid the pandemic, with real estate agents reporting a surge in expat inquiry.
Aussies based in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States are leading inquiry on beachside and hinterland real estate.
For example, Harcourts Coastal agent Katrina Walsh says she has been fielding numerous calls from expats looking for “anything ocean or green” on the Gold Coast.
“I’m hearing from expats in Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and London, as well as people who’ve just come back from overseas,” she says.
“Cashed up expats are wanting to put their money into Gold Coast property, but they want to be waterfront, beachfront or on nice big acreages.”
Search data from realesate.com.au from the past 90 days reveals house hunters in New Zealand accounted for 27 per cent of views on residential real estate in Queensland, followed by the United Kingdom (20 per cent) and the United States (12 per cent).
Around four per cent of searches are coming out of Hong Kong and Canada.
Of those searches, the Gold Coast is the top region of choice in Queensland, followed by Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and then Townsville.
Now, as I have commented frequently in recent weeks, house prices in regional areas have held steady against economic headwinds, buoyed by demand for a beach or country lifestyle.
Prices outside the capital cities were unchanged – overall – between March and July, property researcher CoreLogic has found. But in capital cities prices were down 2 per cent, on average, over the same period.
This is showing up in price data repeatedly – that regional Australia is doing well and generally better than the capital cities.
Some regional cities are recording solid to strong price growth – including Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria, Orange in NSW and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
Partly this is being driven by the strongest trend in Australian real estate – the trend I call the Exodus to Affordable Lifestyle.
This has been under way for some time, driven by technology which allows people to work remotely and by improving transport links.
The pandemic with its enforced lockdowns has enhanced the trend.
Regional Australia overall provides excellent opportunities for investors at the moment.
Most regional cities and towns are unaffected by the pandemic and many have local economies well set-up to withstand any negatives forces. So it’s largely business as usual, with the notable exception of the closed interstate borders.
Vacancies in most locations are low – indeed, very low in many cases – and rents are rising.
There is good demand from buyers and limited supply of properties for sale, so there is upward pressure on prices.
It really is the biggest real estate story of the year to date.
And I think it’s likely to remain so.