Despite a trifecta of woes Aussie house prices look pretty stable
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Aussie property continues to stabilise, says Proptrack, after national home prices rose in April, the fourth straight month of rising values.
And making all the early running according to the latest PropTrack Home Price Index, is the million-dollar market of Sydney which was first out of the gate as prices went into freefall and may’ve got the jump on everyone as the market limps toward a recovery.
Sydney home prices are up 1.68% year to date.
And that’s despite Australia’s unholy trinity of uncomfortably high household debt, rising mortgage repayments and our ridiculously elevated house prices.
The April read from Proptrack follows a warning about exactly that earlier this month from the International Monetary Fund which reported the level of risk in Australia’s housing market is the second-highest in the cashed-up world.
Nevertheless Proptrack says our home prices were up 0.14% nationally in April.
That brings 2023’s cumulative price recovery to 0.75%, according to the property data firm’s latest work, led by author and cracking Aussie economist Elanor Creagh.
Creagh says the turnaround could be driven by a confluence of three main factors – renewed post-pandemic migration bumping into painfully tight rental markets and the generally limited supply of new listings.
That’s possibly just enough to dull the impact of rapidly rising interest rate rises.
Adelaide (+0.41%) Hobart (-0.27%)
Sydney (+0.40%) Canberra (-0.17%)
Perth (+0.21%) Melbourne (-0.11%)
Sydney home values are up 1.68% year to date. Canberra and Hobart have seen the largest annual declines, while Adelaide is the strongest performer.
Melbourne, a generally tedious city, has now overtaken Sydney for price falls over the past 12 months.
Of the two, it is the bigger loser.
Rightfully some might suggest.
I couldn’t possibly comment.
Over the last summer months, home price growth has been stronger in the city than the country.
Except for WA, capital city markets are outperforming their regional counterparts on a monthly basis in every state.
Proptrack says this trend continued in April, with regional areas flat and capital city prices lifting 0.2%.
That’s a switch, because regional Aussie markets outperformed the city markets from midway in the pandemic, throughout much of the past year and have generally recorded stronger annual growth in every state. That’s been a pattern around most of the developed world as those with the dollars and a good internet left town for the good life while the plague burned out.
The IMF – ever keen to get in the face of uncertainty – made an earlier fuss about mortgage-laden Australian households saying our housing market has literally the worst risk of mortgage repayment defaults in the developed world with the possible exception of Canada.
The fund reckons Aussies are at greater risk of defaulting on repayments as the rising cash rate works its magic with our higher levels of household debt, our costlier mortgage rates, and our absurdly high house prices.
The IMF made a note of that when it downgraded its global economic growth outlook to 2.8% adding weight to fears of recession.
And with a looming rates decision on Tuesday from the central bank, the national Treasurer Jim Chalmers will be watching closely. He’s previously assured borrowers Australia will avoid a recession, but expects the economy to slow considerably over the ensuing months.
PropTrack senior economist and report author Eleanor Creagh is banking on a pause, but says if inflation persists – and the core inflation data stays sticky – then “further tightening may be needed at some point.”
“The ongoing tightness in the labour market could add to wages pressure fuelling further inflation, (which) could also see the RBA lift interest rates further.
“But for now, unless the disinflation trend reverses, the pause can be maintained.”
In April, inflation here was higher and the labour market remained tight, but the RBA board opted to hold the cash rate steady at 3.60%.
On the RBA decision Creagh adds that there’s still a distance to returning inflation to the RBA’s target range.
“But with the impact of higher interest rates yet to fully impact household cash flows, and set to do so in months ahead, we’re likely to continue seeing inflation move lower.”
This gives the RBA leeway for a continued period of patience in May, she says.
“There is already evidence that household spending is slowing, suggesting the economy will continue to slow. Further, it takes time for higher interest rates to take their full effect.
“In this tightening cycle, with so many borrowers having taken advantage of record low fixed rate mortgages throughout Covid yet to feel the full impact of rate rises, this is especially the case.”