CoreLogic’s Pain and Gain report for the September 2020 quarter released today has revealed Hobart retained its position as the capital city with the highest rate of profit making resales at 96.6%, while regional Victoria was the most profitable ‘rest of state’ region with 97.5% of dwellings sold for a profit in the three months to September.

Nationally, the proportion of resales that made a profit was 88.1% or $24.8 billion in profits, up from 87.2% or $19.8 billion in the June 2020 quarter. However, the amount of losses also deepened on non-profitable sales, from -$885 million in the June quarter to -$1.2 billion in September.

Eliza Owen, CoreLogic’s Head of Research Australia, says the Pain and Gain analysis for the September quarter reflects the resilience seen in the property market throughout 2020.

“Each of the greater capital city markets, with the exception of Melbourne, saw an increase in the rate of profit making sales over the September quarter. The highest rate of profit making sales was across Hobart, which has been the case since March 2018.

“Coastal regional markets were also particularly profitable for sellers, with profit making sales representing over 95% of resales across six major coastal markets: Geelong, Illawarra, the Mid North Coast, the Newcastle Lake Macquarie region, the Richmond Tweed region and the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast hit a record high rate of profit making sales in the September quarter at 96.4%”, says Ms Owen.

Comparing the capital cities to regional Australia, the portion of profit-making sales increased more rapidly across the regions than capitals.

“The combined regional Australian market saw the rate of profit making sales increase 150 basis points, to 89.2% in the September quarter, while the rate of profitability across capital city markets expanded 30 basis points, to 87.2%. This also reflects the divergent performance between regional and capital city real estate markets through 2020.”

Houses vs Units

The report also demonstrates that there was generally a higher rate of return for houses ($225,000) than units ($125,000).

“Profitability across both houses and units rose across Australia in the September 2020 quarter. The portion of properties sold at a loss among houses fell from 10.2% in the three months to June to 9.6%, while the portion of loss making unit sales fell from 21.4% to 19.6%.

The differential between house and unit profitability narrowed to 10 percentage points in the September quarter, down from 11.2 percentage points in the three months to June. The narrowed differential was a result of unit profitability rising faster than that of houses. Even though the rate of loss making sales declined faster across the unit segment, units were still about 2 times more likely to sell for a loss than houses in the September quarter.

Investors vs Owner Occupiers

A higher portion of property investors sold their dwelling at a loss during the September quarter compared with owner occupiers. Investor sales in the September quarter saw 17.1% of properties sell for a loss, compared with 10.4% of owner occupied sales.

Ms Owen says “Despite the higher rate of loss observed in investor sales in the quarter, the rate of properties re-sold at a loss was down from 18.0% in the June quarter, while the rate of loss making sales among owner occupiers was down from 11.1%.

“The only region where there was a higher incidence of loss making sales among owner occupiers was across Hobart. This has been a consistent trend across the past few quarters. In the three months to September, 3.2% of owner occupied resales saw a nominal loss, compared with just 1% of investor sales.

“The relatively low level of loss making sales among both cohorts reflects the exceptional capital growth across the Hobart market. CoreLogic home value indices show dwelling values across Hobart have seen annualised growth of 7.9% for the 5 years to December 2020, the highest annualised growth rate of the capital city markets,” says Ms Owen.

Hold periods

Analysing returns by hold period suggests a greater amount of gain comes from more time in the market.

“Over the September 2020 quarter, the median hold period of re-sale events across Australia was approximately 8.5 years. For profit making sales, the median hold period was 9 years, while loss making sales were typically held for 6.7 years. For houses and units, typical hold periods were longer across profit making resales,” says Ms Owen.

Looking ahead, Ms Owen says the Australian housing market is expected to improve further in the coming months. “With record low mortgage rates, a faster than expected economic recovery and relatively low cases of COVID-19, profitability is tipped to trend upwards over the coming quarters.”

This edition of the Pain and Gain report analyses approximately 72,000 residential property re-sale events over the September 2020 quarter. For more information or to buy the report, visit www.corelogic.com.au/reports/pain-and-gain.