Dwelling values are falling and fewer transactions are occurring across the housing market which should create alarms for market participants such as agent, lenders, state governments and brokers that are reliant on housing turnover.

Despite dwelling values having only recently started to fall, the number of settled transactions in the housing market has been trending lower since peaking in 2015.  It is important to note that off-the-plan sales are not counted until completion and they are counted at their contract date.  What this means is that there will be some upwards revision to recent sales volumes given the high volume of units currently under construction.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, National

Nationally, there were 465,788 settled house and unit sales over the 12 months to May 2018.  The annual number of settled sales was -7.7% lower over the year.  The monthly data shown in the chart points to a declining trend in transactions with settled sales now sitting lower than the decade average.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Sydney

Over the 12 months to May 2018 there were 84,699 settled house and unit sales in Sydney.  Although the monthly data points to a slight rebound in transactions recently, likely the result of a surge in first home buyers since July last year.  Annual sales were -13.5% lower over the past 12 months.  House sales were -11.4% lower over the year and unit sales were -16.0% lower.  Monthly sales volumes have consistently been lower than the 10 year average since May 2017.  While there is likely to be some revision as unsettled sales flow through, it remains likely that ultimately sales volumes are lower over the year.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Melbourne

Settled sales transactions have been trending lower for a number of years in Melbourne which is partly to do with high volumes of units under construction but also strong demand and relatively low supply of housing for sale.  With values now falling, the 83,444 settled sales over the past year was -12.9% lower than the previous year.  House sales are 13.2% lower and unit sales are down -12.4%. Like Sydney, it seems unlikely that once all off-the-plan properties are completed and settled that transaction volumes will be higher than a year ago.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Brisbane

Over the 12 months to May 2018 there were 48,050 settled house and unit sales in Brisbane.  On an annual basis, transaction volumes across the city were -12.1% lower over the year.  House sales have fallen by -8.3% over the year while unit sales have recorded a much greater fall of -19.8%.  As the chart shows, monthly sales volumes have been trending lower for a number of years and are now slightly lower than the decade average.  Volumes, particularly for units, are likely to see some moderate revision over the coming years but are likely to remain lower than they were a year ago.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Adelaide

Over the past 12 months there were 27,705 settled sales in Adelaide which was 2.5% more sales than over the same period in 2017.  Annual house sales were 0.5% higher over the year while unit sales recorded a much greater 85% increase.  Adelaide is one of only two capital cities in which annual sales were higher over the year and it is also one of the few cities in which monthly transaction volumes are currently above the decade average.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Perth

Perth’s housing market has been in a downturn since 2014 however, there are some early signs that transaction are lifting, albeit for a very low base.  Over the past 12 months there were 30,393 settled sales which was 1.4% higher than the previous year with house sales 1.0% higher and unit sales 3.4% higher.  As the housing market slowly shows signs of improvement sales volumes may continue to climb.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Hobart

Although dwelling values in Hobart are increasing at a much faster pace in Hobart than any other capital city, transaction volumes are falling.  This is largely due to strong demand and little supply of stock available for sale (advertised listings are currently around record lows across Hobart).  Over the past 12 months there was 4,915 dwelling transactions in Hobart which was -7.4% fewer than the previous year with house sales down -7.3% and unit sales -7.9% lower.  Monthly sales are currently only marginally higher than the decade average.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Darwin

Darwin has recorded 2,018 dwelling sales over the past 12 months which was -5.8% fewer than the previous year with house sales -7.7% lower and unit sales down -2.1%.  Like Perth, Darwin has been in a downturn for a number of years but has seen an increase in transactions over recent months with last month’s sales close to the decade average.

Monthly settled sales with six month moving average, Canberra

Monthly transaction in Canberra are sitting right on their decade average however, the chart shows that sales have been trending lower for over a year.  Over the past 12 months, there were 8,310 settled sales which was -10.0% lower than the previous year with house sales down -3.0% and unit sales -16.5% lower.  With value growth slowing it is reasonable to expect fewer sales over the short-term.

With dwelling values now falling and tighter credit conditions it is reasonable to anticipate that transaction volumes will continue to trend lower.  For sellers this means they will need to be realistic about their price expectations as buyers become more empowered.  As a result sellers will need to ensure their marketing strategy is finely tuned and set appropriate prices in order to achieve a sale.  Fewer sales means less turnover, which in-turn means less commission and less stamp duty revenue for state governments.