House Prices Under Labor
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House Prices Under Labor

Predicted market falls are coming – though some experts claim things have been over-egged.

By Terry Christodoulou
Fri, May 27, 2022 4:44pmGrey Clock 2 min

Economists are predicting the national property market will continue to soften despite Labor Government initiatives aimed at stimulation and a targeted ease of entry.

Labor’s recently announced ‘Help to Buy’ scheme – a new program targeting first home buyers, single parents and low-income earners in a bid to get them into the market sooner – was a key announcement from the incoming Albanese government and aligned to a confirmed continuation of the Coalition’s ‘Home Guarantee Scheme.’

“With affordability worsening due to the first interest rate rise in 11 years, the government incentives and offsets will aid housing in the short term,” says Dr Wilson, chief economist at My Housing Market.

“Of course, interest rates will play a large role in how the market behaves, and while they are certainly on the way up, how far up they go is still up in the air.”

Others point to future pain – with predictions of substantial drops in property prices.

AMP claims Australians should expect a 10% – 15% drop in house prices across the next 18 months.

By comparison, Westpac remains firm with an earlier forecast of a national price fall of 2% by the end of 2022 and a further 8% in 2023. The CBA, meanwhile, predicts national prices to flatline by the end of the year, also with an 8% drop in 2023.

Dr Wilson remains sceptical of such dramatic reductions.

“The historical data doesn’t suggest that rising interest rates impact the market at that level,” he says. “There’s no doubt that over the past six months there’s been flat, or negative price growth. But the housing market is still undersupplied and with building costs rising and a lack of building in the pipeline, along with migration set to return at full capacity soon, there will still be more people than houses.

“One only has to look at the rental market, especially in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne to see that there is still a high demand for housing.”

Not discounting the effect of interest rates on the economy, Dr Wilson explains states the key to the national housing market lies with long-term inflation and wage-growth.

“For the new government, and the RBA, the problem lies in wages, and making sure that it keeps pace with inflation. With inflation going up, housing becomes less affordable, and that will have a greater impact on prices than interest rates.

“But at the end of the day, prices will stay fairly flat, if not a little bit under the line, and will be for some time.”

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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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