The top 7 ways COVID changed the Australian property market
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The top 7 ways COVID changed the Australian property market

The closed borders and construction delays were just some of the pandemic-induced effects on the local property market

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Mar 12, 2024 9:48amGrey Clock 2 min

CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless has revealed seven ways in which COVID changed Australian housing market trends.

“It was four years ago when the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic,” Mr Lawless said. Since that time economic trends, including housing metrics, have been on a rollercoaster ride. Although lockdowns and the uncertainty of vaccination programs are well behind us, the legacy of COVID will be with us for a long time yet.”

1. Surging home values

Australia’s home price median surged 32.5% between March 2020 and February 2024, providing an incredible uplift of approximately $188,000 for homeowners in just four years. Housing values initially dipped when COVID hit but then surged 30.8% higher to a cyclical peak in April 2022. The market slumped 7.5% as interest rates rose, but as supply dried up and migration spiked, housing values entered a new growth cycle in February 2023 and have since risen 9.5% to date.

Mr Lawless said house values have increased by 37.9% while unit values have risen 16.5%, reflecting buyers’ preference for more space during COVID, and the ability to work from home allowing them to move to city outskirts or regional areas where they could afford a house. This led to regional home prices rising faster than capital city values. Today, regional prices are up a collective 47.6% compared with a 28.5% rise in capital city prices.

2. Rising rents

Mr Lawless said rental markets have tightened substantially, with vacancy rates holding around 1% and weekly rents surging. Nationally, rents have jumped 32.4% since March 2020, adding approximately $150 per week to the median weekly rent.

3. Interest rates

Mr Lawless said emergency low interest rates stimulated demand but in May 2022, when the Reserve Bank began increasing rates to fight inflation, market activity was quickly quelled.“So far borrowers have navigated higher mortgage rates much better than expected with mortgage arrears holding below pre-pandemic levels, Mr Lawless commented.

4. Inflation

Mr Lawless said unprecedented peacetime fiscal stimulus, low interest rates and stronger global demand once COVID restrictions were lifted created higher inflation. This was exacerbated further by global supply chain disruptions due to the war in Ukraine. Inflation is now beating forecasts, fuelling speculation we could see rate cuts later this year, he said.

5. Low unemployment

Strong employment is seen as a crucial factor in keeping the property market stable. Once lockdowns ended and social distancing measures were eased, the jobs market tightened significantly. “Although labour markets are now loosening, RBA forecasts have the unemployment rate holding below 4.5% through to at least mid-2026,” Mr Lawless said.

6. Demographic trends

One factor keeping housing demand strong throughout the pandemic, despite closed borders, was the average household size shrinking as more people bought or rented houses, Mr Lawless explained. Since international borders reopened, record high overseas migration led by students has added massive new demand, particularly in the rental market.

7. Low supply

Low supply of homes for sale and fewer homes being built during COVID resulted in the unusual situation of housing values increasing at the same time as interest rates.

“Dwelling completions have held relatively flat through the pandemic to date, with supply chain constraints, materials and labour shortages, and a surge in construction costs creating a challenging environment for delivering new housing supply, Mr Lawless said.



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Australia’s top 10 most affordable regional property markets investors should watch

Whether you prefer the country or the coast, there are plenty of east coast options for cashed up buyers

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, Apr 19, 2024 3 min

There are 10 local council areas scattered along the East Coast of Australia that offer both affordability and solid fundamentals for sustainable future growth, according to the research team at residential property network, PRD. The areas have been selected based on five criterion. They are affordability – defined as a median house price below $600,000, rising house values, strong rental yields to encourage investment, a strong pipeline of residential, commercial and infrastructure projects to facilitate local economic development, and low unemployment.

Here are Australia’s 10 most affordable regional property markets with great future potential.

Mackay, QLD

Mackay is a tropical coastal area located in north Queensland. It’s known for its closeconnection to the Great Barrier Reef. The median house price is $462,750, up 8.9 percent in 2023. Mackay attracts a lot of interstate migrants and is home to more than 120,000 people. It has a healthy economy with an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent and $1.7 billion worth of projects due to commence this year.

Toowoomba, QLD

The Toowoomba median house price was up 10.9 percent in 2023.

Toowoomba is located west of Brisbane and is known for its Victorian buildings, street artand surrounding national parks. The median house price is $560,000, up 10.9 percent in 2023. The city has a population of more than 180,000. The unemployment rate is 4 percentand there is $6.1 billion in projects commencing in 2024.

Townsville, QLD

Townsville is a coastal city in north-eastern Queensland. The median house price is $420,000, up 5 percent in 2023. It is home to more than 200,000 people. Unemployment is very low at 2.5 percent and there is $3.2 billion of projects commencing this year.

Dubbo, NSW

Dubbo is located west of Newcastle in the Orana Region and is home to the Western Plains Zoo. The median house price is $530,000, up 11.6 percent in 2023. The population has exploded in recent years to more than 56,000 people. The unemployment rate is just 2.2percent and the economy is thriving. There is a pipeline of $4.7 billion in projects commencing this year.

Tamworth, NSW

Located in north-east NSW, Tamworth is known for its popular annual Country Music Festival. It’s also the largest retail centre for the New England and Northwest Slopes regions. The median house price is $490,000, up 14 percent in 2023. With a population of more than 65,000 people, the economy is strong with unemployment of just 2 percent and $112.4million worth of projects commencing this year.

Griffith, NSW

Located west of Sydney and northwest of Canberra, Griffith is known for its prime produce production and wine cultivation. The median house price is $531,000, up 2.1 percent in 2023. Griffith’s population is about 27,000 people. The city boasts high economic resilience with a 2 percent unemployment rate and $258.7 million in projects in the pipeline.

Ballarat, VIC

Ballarat, Victoria

Ballarat is a 1.5hour drive west of Melbourne. It’s popular with city commuters who move here for housing affordability and a relaxed lifestyle with easy access to the city via train. The median house price is $570,000, down 4.2 percent in 2023 but up 92.9 percent over the past decade. The city has the third highest population in Victoria at about 118,000. Ballarat has an unemployment rate of 3 percent and a total projects pipeline worth $2.3 billion for 2024.

Shepparton, VIC

Shepparton is a rural area about two hours north of Melbourne. It is popularly referred to as the food bowl of Australia. The median house price is $475,000, up 4.4 percent in 2023. The population is about 70,000. The unemployment rate is just 2 percent and there is $1.8 billion in projects for 2024.

Wodonga, VIC

Wodonga is located on the border of NSW on the southern side of the Murray River. It is approximately 320km from Melbourne and 345km from Canberra. The median house price is $567,250, up 4.7 percent in 2023. With a population of about 44,000, the city’s jobless rate is 3 percent and there is $388.2 million in development set to commence in 2024, primarily new infrastructure.

Burnie, TAS

Burnie is a bustling port city located in Emu Bay in Tasmania’s north-west. Overlooking beaches and parklands, the area is known for its rich agriculture and mining projects. The median house price is $435,000, up 3.6 percent. Despite a rising population, the unemployment rate is falling and is currently 5.6 percent. In 2024, Burnie’s project pipeline is valued at approximately $1.6 billion. A significant portion is commercial development, primarily renewable energy projects.

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