Quarterly Housing & Economic Review - July 2017 Release

The CoreLogic Quarterly Housing & Economic Review is a breakdown of the activity across each of the capital cities over the quarter to June 2017 and also dives into the economic factors that contribute to the overall performance of the market.

June 2017 marked the fifth anniversary of the current housing market growth phase. Over the second quarter of 2017, combined capital city dwelling values had increased by 0.8% which was their slowest quarterly growth rate since December 2015. The June quarter has historically shown seasonal weakness, however, despite a slower rate of growth over the quarter, the combined capital cities still recorded value growth of 9.6% over the past 12 months. With values continuing to rise, the total value of residential property nationally was estimated at $7.1 trillion at the end of the quarter.

Sydney and Melbourne were the only capital cities to have recorded double-digit value growth over the past year with values increasing by 12.2% and 13.7% respectively. Although values have risen swiftly in these two cities over the year, the annual trend rate of growth has slowed since the March 2017 quarter. Across the remaining capital cities, values have increased over the past year in Brisbane (2.0%), Adelaide (2.4%), Hobart (6.8%) and Canberra (9.6%) while values are lower in Perth (-1.7%) and Darwin (-7.0%).

In 2008 during the financial crisis, combined capital city dwelling values fell by around 6%. The combination of state and federal government stimulus and aggressive cuts to the cash rate by the Reserve Bank saw values rise from the end of 2008 and since then, over two growth cycles, combined capital city dwelling values have increased by 69.8%. The rates of growth since 2008 have been substantially greater in Sydney (110.9%) and Melbourne (95.3%) than across all other capital cities. Canberra (39.1%) is the only other capital city to have seen values rise by more than 20% since the end of 2008. Growth in Sydney and Melbourne has been due to a range of factors, including but not limited to: rapid population growth, much stronger economic conditions driving employment growth and a relatively low supply of established stock available for sale. The ongoing rises in home values are being supported by a low cost of borrowing.

As values have increased over recent years, so too has supply with new housing construction, particularly construction of units, recently passing through a new historically high level. New construction activity has been driven by the low cost of borrowing and the elevated level of activity from the investor segment of the market, including demand emanating from overseas. It is reasonable to conclude that many of the new units constructed in particular, have been purchased by investors. It has also been widely reported that the level of purchasing by offshore buyers has increased dramatically over recent years which has also supported the heightened level of new housing construction. The surge in unit construction is already leading to units increasing in value at a slower pace than houses across a number of capital cities. Although new housing construction has started to slow, a substantial volume of units remain under construction and will continue to ensure completions remain elevated over the next few years.

A year ago the rental market was showing clear signs of slowing with the surge of new housing stock causing rental growth to slow. Over the past nine to 12 months, rental growth has started to pick-up noticeably. It is difficult to know exactly what has driven this however, rapid population growth and the sheer lack of affordability of owning a home are most likely drivers. Furthermore, the rising popularity of AirBNB is potentially resulting in some level of stock removal from the long-term rental market and increasing supply in the short-term market. Additionally, as mortgage rates edge higher, particularly for investment mortgages, it is likely that landlords will be doing their best to recoup their higher cost of debt by pushing rents higher.

Capital city dwelling values have now been rising for five years and the rate of growth in Sydney and Melbourne has been significantly greater than that outside of these two cities. While lower mortgage rates have improved mortgage serviceability, for those that don’t own a home it is increasingly difficult for them to firstly save a large enough deposit and secondly to compete with the equity that current home owners have built over recent years. The housing market conditions prevalent in Sydney and Melbourne are not prevalent across the rest of the country however, these cities are being supported by strong economic and demographic conditions which are fuelling mortgage demand.
Mortgage rates have clearly played a role in driving housing demand in Sydney and Melbourne but the relatively weaker economic conditions outside of these two cities have dampened housing demand elsewhere. With affordability becoming stretched we are seeing increasing pushes for housing market reform from Government. These calls are expected to only grow louder the longer the current growth conditions persist.