CoreLogic has released its latest Quarterly Economic & Property Market Review which provides a comprehensive overview of housing market performance through the start of 2021. 

As of April 2021, the combined value of the Australian housing market climbed to $8.1 trillion, and the CoreLogic Home Value Index was 7.6% above its previous high in October 2017. Western Australia and the Northern Territory were the only state and territory where dwelling market values were not at record highs. However, low interest rates, more favourable migration trends and an uplift in mining activity is supporting a recovery in many markets across these regions. 

There are also early signs that investors are coming back to the property market, with February and March recording a -4.8% reduction in first home buyer borrowing. Property investor financing was up 17.7% in March compared with January, pushing up the share of financing secured by investors to 25.9% in the month, compared with a recent low of 23.1% in January.

Eliza Owen, CoreLogic’s Head of Research Australia, says “The uplift in dwelling values over the last several months now has been very broad based across Australia. The vast majority of sub-markets analysed (97% of SA3 markets) saw a lift in housing values in the 12 months to April.

“With economic conditions improving, dwelling values at a new record high, and red-hot growth in sales volumes, conversations with clients and industry stakeholders are turning to how long this can last. That’s part of what we look at in this report. At this stage, it seems most likely that the extraordinary growth rates seen through the start of the year are not sustainable, and will gradually trend down due to affordability constraints. Tighter lending conditions also seem likely to put downward pressure on housing demand.”

Commentary by Eliza Owen on the key findings by State and Territory

New South Wales:

Sydney and regional NSW have been among the ‘top performing’ housing markets through the start of 2021 in terms of value change. This follows a peak-to-trough fall in Sydney values of -2.9% between April and September 2020, and a dip of just -0.1% in May 2020 across regional NSW. From January to April 2021, Sydney dwelling values have risen 9.3%, and regional NSW dwelling values are up 9.0%. Both dwelling markets are at record highs.

Victoria:

Various indicators suggest that while a second spike in COVID cases has weighed on the Victorian economy, the state has bounced back strongly amid eased restrictions since the December quarter. Even a sharp decline in rents appears not to have deterred buyers. While rental values remain -20.1% lower across the SA3 ‘Melbourne City’ unit market, purchase prices are 2.0% higher in the same period.

Queensland:

Dwelling values across Queensland are currently 13.7% above the previous record high. Alongside low mortgage rates, interstate migration to Queensland has remained a tailwind for housing demand. Migration data suggests that the Sunshine state has been particularly popular since the onset of COVID. The latest (provisional) data for the December 2020 quarter suggests that net interstate migration to Queensland reached 9,763, the highest volume since December 2003.

South Australia:

South Australia’s dwelling market has seen trends continue to break away from averages. In the three months to April 2021, quarterly growth for Adelaide dwelling values was 4.3%, up on the five year average quarterly result of 0.8%. Sales volumes through April were an estimated 36.4% higher across Adelaide on the previous five year average. Total stock on market was -33.6% below the previous five year average in South Australia, with just 9,336 dwellings available for sale.

Western Australia:

April 2021 marked the eighth consecutive month of growth in state dwelling values, and the 19th consecutive month of growth in rents. Alongside low interest rates are improving economic conditions in the state.

Tasmania:

While the uplift in Australian housing and economic activity has been fairly broad-based, Tasmania stands out as leading in many indicators. Hobart dwelling values increased 7.0% in the three months to April. This was the second-highest increase of the capital cities, behind the extraordinary uplift in Sydney values at 8.8%. In regional Tasmania, dwelling values increased 7.7% over the period, which was the highest uplift of any non-metropolitan market.

Northern Territory:

Similar to housing markets across WA, Darwin and parts of the NT have seen continued market momentum through the start of 2021. Darwin dwelling values had the highest annual growth rate of the capital cities in the 12 months to April at 15.3%. This was led by an 18.2% lift in house values and a 9.5% lift in Darwin units.

Australian Capital Territory:

The ACT housing market has continued to surge in value through the start of 2021. April marked the 20th consecutive month that ACT dwelling values hit a new record high, putting the market value 19.1% higher than the previous record level in April 2019. The extremely strong growth in demand for dwellings across the ACT, like many smaller capital cities and regional markets, has been exacerbated by low listings volumes. Total stock on the market as of 23rd May were -23.9% below the five year average, with just 1,631 properties available for sale in the region.