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THE FUTURE OF THE AUSTRALIAN PROPERTY MARKET, 2017 AND BEYOND…By Konrad Bobilak
Economists, analysts and well-known housing market pundits got things horribly wrong in 2016 – as they did in 2015 – with forecasts that house prices would decline, if not crash, as Big Short Report author Jonathan Tepper predicted.
Instead the housing market – aided by two rate cuts in May and August to a record low of 1.5 per cent, continued strong population growth in Sydney and Melbourne, a historically low number of property listings and ongoing strong demand – proved far more resilient as capital city values rose between 3.5 and 11 per cent, according to various data providers.
Fears that new stamp duty charges and land taxes imposed on foreign buyers in NSW, Queensland and Victoria would reduce demand from this sector and force down price growth did not play out. Instead prices continued to rise in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart.
According to CoreLogic’s December Home Value Index, the most up-to-date measure of house price growth, dwelling values across the five main capital cities ended the year up 10.9 per cent compared with a gain of 8 per cent in 2015.
Dwelling values were up 15.5 per cent in Sydney, 13.7 per cent in Melbourne, 11 per cent in Hobart and 9.3 per cent in Canberra, according to CoreLogic, while there was more modest growth in Brisbane and Adelaide of about 4 per cent. Perth, predictably weak, fell more than 4 per cent.However, after CoreLogic came under fire from the Reserve Bank last year for possibly overstating Sydney and Melbourne house price growth after changing its methodologies, it is worth noting that other providers such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Fairfax Media’s Domain Group recorded much more modest annual house price growth of 3.5 per cent, although their data is only up until the September 2016 quarter.
The ABS showed a 6.9 per cent gain in Melbourne, ahead of Hobart (6.8 per cent) and Canberra (5.5 per cent) while Sydney and Adelaide were up 3.2 per cent and Brisbane was up 3.1 per cent. Perth (down 4 per cent) and Darwin (down 7.2 per cent) were the weakest markets.
Domain had Melbourne house prices surging 9.1 per cent on annual terms in the September quarter, followed by Canberra (4.9 per cent), Brisbane (3.2 per cent), Adelaide (2.8 per cent) and Sydney (2.1 per cent). It had falls in Perth (down 3.8 per cent) and Darwin (down 10 per cent). Notably, apartment prices fell 3.8 per cent in Brisbane and were down 6.2 per cent in Perth.
Housing market guru Louis Christopher from SQM Research was the most accurate forecaster in 2015 and again did well in 2016 when compared across all data providers and SQM’s own asking price index, which recorded capital city house prices ending 2016 up almost 5 per cent, led by Melbourne (11.1 per cent), Hobart (10.5 per cent) and Sydney (4.7 per cent).
SQM Research’s Housing Boom and Bust Report, released in October 2015, forecast Australian dwelling prices to rise at between 3 and 8 per cent in 2016.
In Sydney, SQM forecast dwelling prices to rise by 4 to 9 per cent, a fairly accurate tip, while in Melbourne SQM was virtually spot on with its prediction of price growth of 8 to 13 per cent. It was overly bullish on Brisbane, predicting growth of 5 to 8 per cent and a bit too bearish on Canberra (2 to 4 per cent) but was quite accurate on its outlooks for Hobart (4 to 7 per cent) and Adelaide (2 to 5 per cent)
“It seems we did get most cities right and made the right call that Melbourne would be the out performer,” Mr Christopher told the Australian Financial Review. “We copped a fair bit of stick over that one, particularly from the Macrobusiness guys who thought Melbourne would fall.”