Over the 2013 calendar year, RP Data estimates that there were 339,807 settled house sales and 128,547 settled unit sales.
Based on RP Data’s estimates of sales activity to December 2013, there were 468,354 house and unit sales nationally during 2013; the highest annual number residential property sales since the 12 months to September 2010 and 13.2% higher than over the 12 months to December 2012.
At a national level, the annual number of houses sold increased by 14.1% over the year and the number of unit sales was 11.0% higher.
Across the combined capital cities, RP Data estimates that there were 212,956 house and 96,487 unit sales in 2013. Based on this data, 62.7% of all house sales nationally were in a capital city and 75.1% of all unit sales.
Capital city house sales were 16.5% higher over the calendar year and capital city unit sales had increased by 10.2% in 2013 compared with 2012.
Both the national and combined capital city figures indicate that there was a clear escalation in housing demand throughout 2013.
This was also highlighted by early data from the RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index which showed capital city house values rose by 9.9% in 2013 and unit values increased by 9.0%. The escalation in sales volumes over the year has been greater than the lift in home values.
Although the volume of sales has increased you will note that they remain well below the peak sales levels recorded between 2001 and 2003 as well as being lower than more recent peaks in 2007 and 2009.
Looking at the annual number of sales across individual capital cities some clear trends are evident. The most important thing to note is that a large rise in sales has not necessarily translated into a significant rises in home values.
The pick-up in market activity has been stronger for houses and the third chart highlights this fact. Across each capital city, the number of house sales at the end of 2013 was higher than at the end of 2012. The largest increases were recorded in Sydney (23.1%), Brisbane (21.1%), Perth *14.4%) and Melbourne (12.8%).
Sales activity for units has also generally risen over the year with Canberra the one exception. The increases in sales activity have typically been more moderate than those for houses. Again Sydney has recorded the largest annual lift (16.1%) followed by: Adelaide (13.6%), Brisbane (7.5%) and Melbourne (7.2%).
Sydney and Melbourne have been the strongest performers in terms of value growth over the past year and are of course the two largest housing markets nationally.
These two cities have accounted for 54.3% of all capital city house sales nationally in 2013 and 66.5% of all capital city unit sales.
It is important to remember that the figures displayed only include settled sales. Off-the-plan unit sales will not be entered into the counts until such time as they settle.
For larger projects this could in some cases be a number of years away and as a result the volume of unit sales is somewhat understated and subject to larger revision.
The data indicates that the low mortgage rate environment is encouraging a greater level of house and unit sales. This additional demand translates into more mortgages being written, more commission to real estate agents and mortgage brokers and more stamp duty revenue for state governments.
With mortgage rates forecast to remain low and dwelling approvals indicating a supply-side response is occurring we would expect that sales volumes will likely rise further throughout 2013.
Of course the key threats to this expectation is how far values rise which may restrict housing affordability and reduce sales activity as well as the rising level of unemployment which could dampen the preparedness of consumers to purchase homes.