Australian Property Market Sees Upswing and Price Increases
At the end of this year’s first trimester, the situation of the national real estate market seemed to present a more positive outlook than most experts, buyers, and sellers would have imagined. The more enthusiastic of them even touted words such as “boom” to describe the increase in housing prices, in the clearance rates at auctions, and, most importantly, in the levels of consumer confidence. While it would be overly optimistic do describe this mild, yet uplifting increase in overall market levels as a boom, it does indicate that 2013 might not spell disaster to the extent to which some may have originally imagined.
The housing price stats at the end of February 2013 indicated monthly increases in four of the eight capital cities, with Darwin leading the pack for its 2.3 per cent rise in prices per dwelling per month. The most significant decrease for the month was posted in Brisbane (-1.1 per cent, down to $420,000 per home, on average). Overall, however, the situation did seem positive: on average, the eight capital cities saw a .3 per cent increase in prices per month, 1.2 per cent compared to the previous quarter and 1.3 per cent on the year. Returns had also increased by 5.7 per cent, the average price was poised at $460,000 and the stats for the rest of the states (i.e. for towns other than the capital city) were also improving: 1.0 per cent on the month, .4 per cent for the quarter, and .4 per cent on the year-on-year indicator.
Beyond this optimism, certain key questions persist. For one thing, though the average ratios might seem encouraging, the markets remain highly divided. Price comparisons by property type, price category, and capital cities differ widely – Melbourne alone seems to be genuinely bouncing back and going strong, with the third consecutive price increase on the month.
The bottom line is that the property market in Australia is not about to experience a strong comeback on 2013, but it is most likely going to continue on its stabilizing trend. A lot has changed for the better since May of last year, when, according to one survey, property prices hit rock bottom. In the real estate market cycle, that’s also when they started making a comeback. Prices have improved by 3.3 per cent since then and that’s all because buyers are timidly, yet decidedly making their comeback to the market. ‘Timidly’, because they’re being very picky about what and where they buy: areas in Australia where there is a clear surplus in housing stocks are still languishing. The price-location ratio is still the deciding factor and, in earnest, it only makes sense that the buyers should be choosy – the market is clearly a buyer’s market.
For this year, the forecast includes more growth on this mid-level segment of the market. The Bankwest Home Loans Density report has shown that though buyers are buying smaller homes for their first home, they are still buying, showing that confidence is also being propelled upward by the lending aspect of the with everyone expecting a comeback in the near future. Data shows that mortgages are on the rise, with Aussies getting new home loans this year despite being static for the past 10 years. Mortgage brokers (e.g. Smartline) are also on the rise.
The question that lies ahead is what’s going to happen when the mid-range segment of the market runs out of well located, fairly priced homes and apartments. The upswing in the property market cycle will also only last for so long, which adds an extra dose of pressure, especially for potential buyers in states that are riding high on the market recovery wave. The construction sector is still lingering – bad news for those who feel that the answer might just come from that direction.