Premium Suburbs Feel Price Pinch
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Premium Suburbs Feel Price Pinch

Affordability constraints, credit crunches and a flood of listings are affecting growth.

By Terry Christodoulou
Wed, Nov 10, 2021 11:51amGrey Clock 2 min

House prices have fallen across 7% of suburbs in the past three months.

This dip is a contrast to the March peak when just 1.4% posted a decline and according to analysts is the work of a surge in new listings, affordability constraints and tightening credit conditions.

Data from CoreLogic indicates mining towns and some regional markets that experienced the strong upswing earlier in the year have also posted the largest drops.

The volatility in these markets has seen prices slump by 10.3% in South Hedland in WA’s East Pilbara region during the past three months.

House prices fell by 4.7% in Millars Well and Pegs Creek in West Pilbara while units were weakest in West End in Townsville where values fell by 6.6%, East Fremantle in Perth a 4.2%.

However, it’s not an issue isolated to the regions with some of the country’s more premium suburbs feeling the punch.

The high end of the housing market – where dwelling values were about $1 million or more.

Since peaking at 3.5% monthly growth in March, the top 25% of the market by value has slowed to 1.5% through October.

By comparison, the middle market has slowed from 2.2% to 1.7% and the lowest segment 1.5% to 1.3% during the same period.

During the three months ending October house prices in the tony suburbs of Melbourne, including Armadale, Mont Albert and Blackburn posted declines of 0.5%, 0.4% and 0.1% respectively.

In Sydney, Waverley, in the city’s coveted eastern suburbs was the weakest premium market with house prices gaining just 0.7% over three months.

According to Eliza Owen, CoreLogic’s head of research, the slowdown is due to affordability constraints and a glut of listings.

“The volatility at the high end of the market, demonstrated by the rapid decline in growth rates, suggests this segment can also expect a larger downturn in property values.”

“The housing market is well and truly past its peak for the current cycle, and it makes sense that as more headwinds accumulate, price increases will continue to slow, and more suburbs may see an adjustment in price,” she said.

“This comes back to borrowing constraints associated with the increased loan serviceability buffer from APRA, as well as banks proactively tightening lending conditions,” Ms Owen 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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