Fall In Jobless Rate To Fuel Higher House Prices
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Fall In Jobless Rate To Fuel Higher House Prices

Unemployment is at its lowest since figure March 2020.

By Terry Christodoulou
Fri, Mar 19, 2021 11:13amGrey Clock < 1 min

Unemployment has fallen sharply over February and is now close to pre-covid shutdown levels.

According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the national unemployment rate seasonally adjusted fell sharply by 0.5% over February to 5.8%, the lowest rate since the pre-covid results of 5.2% recorded over March 2020.

Following strong buyer demand in Australian capital cities, with Sydney and Melbourne housing prices rising sharply in the first quarter of the year, experts are tipping lower unemployment figures to fuel higher housing prices.

“A rapidly improving labour market will enhance housing affordability and confidence, adding upward pressure on already strongly growing prices,” Dr Andrew Wilson, Chief Economist My Housing Market said.

All states reported falls in the jobless rate over February with Queensland performing strongest, falling 0.8%. NSW and VIC reported the lowest jobless rates at 5.6%.

“Concerns over the possible significant negative impact on the economy of the tapering of the Job Keeper allowances at the end of this month will also likely to be misplaced – again,” Dr Wilson added.

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House values continued to fall last month, but the pace of decline has slowed, CoreLogic reports.

In signs that the RBA’s aggressive approach to monetary policy is making an impact, CoreLogic’s Home Value Index reveals national dwelling values fell -1.0 percent in November, marking the smallest monthly decline since June.

The drop represents a -7.0 percent decline – or about $53,400 –  since the peak value recorded in April 2022. Research director at CoreLogic, Tim Lawless, said the Sydney and Melbourne markets are leading the way, with the capital cities experiencing the most significant falls. But it’s not all bad news for homeowners.

“Three months ago, Sydney housing values were falling at the monthly rate of -2.3 percent,” he said. “That has now reduced by a full percentage point to a decline of -1.3 percent in November.  In July, Melbourne home values were down -1.5 percent over the month, with the monthly decline almost halving last month to -0.8%.”

The rate of decline has also slowed in the smaller capitals, he said.  

“Potentially we are seeing the initial uncertainty around buying in a higher interest rate environment wearing off, while persistently low advertised stock levels have likely contributed to this trend towards smaller value falls,” Mr Lawless said. “However, it’s fair to say housing risk remains skewed to the downside while interest rates are still rising and household balance sheets become more thinly stretched.” 

The RBA has raised the cash rate from 0.10 in April  to 2.85 in November. The board is due to meet again next week, with most experts still predicting a further increase in the cash rate of 25 basis points despite the fall in house values.

Mr Lawless said if interest rates continue to increase, there is potential for declines to ‘reaccelerate’.

“Next year will be a particular test of serviceability and housing market stability, as the record-low fixed rate terms secured in 2021 start to expire,” Mr Lawless said.

Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week also reveal a slowdown in the rate of inflation last month, as higher mortgage repayments and cost of living pressures bite into household budgets.

However, ABS data reveals ongoing labour shortages and high levels of construction continues to fuel higher prices for new housing, although the rate of price growth eased in September and October. 

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