The Reserve Bank (RBA) released the minutes of their March 2017 monetary policy meeting earlier this week.
At the meeting the RBA board decided to keep official interest rates on hold at 1.5%.
Their comments about housing are especially pertinent given the current discussion about affordability and potential introduction of additional macroprudential controls and the comments follow.
‘Conditions in established housing markets had continued to differ significantly across the country.
Over recent months, conditions appeared to have strengthened in Sydney and had remained strong in Melbourne; these cities had continued to record brisk growth in housing prices, and auction clearance rates had remained high.
Housing loan approvals and credit growth had picked up for investors, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria.
In contrast, housing prices and rents had fallen in Perth for two years or so, and apartment prices had declined in Brisbane.
Recent data continued to suggest that there had been a build-up of risks associated with the housing market.
In some markets, conditions had been strong and prices were rising briskly, although in other markets prices were declining.
In the eastern capital cities, a considerable additional supply of apartments was scheduled to come on stream over the next few years.
Growth in rents had been the slowest for two decades.
Borrowing for housing by investors had picked up over recent months and growth in household debt had been faster than that in household income.
Supervisory measures had contributed to some strengthening of lending standards.’
The comments suggest that there are some concerns surrounding the recent acceleration of value growth in Sydney and Melbourne as well as concerns relating to the increase in investor lending and the rise in household debt.
It is anticipated that additional or strengthened macro prudential measures could be implemented with an aim to slow down investment activity which comprises almost half of new mortgage demand nationally, and closer to 60% of mortgage demand in New South Wales.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its Residential Property price Indexes for December 2016 earlier this week.
We already know what is happening in terms of growth from the CoreLogic Home Value Index however, this release includes valuable information on dwelling counts and the values of residential property.
At the end of 2016, the ABS estimates there were 9,802,700 residential dwellings with a total value of $6.44 trillion.
The total value of residential dwellings increased by 8.2% over the year while the number of dwellings increased by 1.8%.
CoreLogic collected results for 90.7% of the capital city auctions held over the past week.
Based on these results, the combined capital city auction clearance rate was recorded at 74.1% across 2,916 auctions last week.
Clearance rates declined on lower volumes last week with the clearance rate recorded at 75.1% the previous week from 1,473 auctions.
Last week’s combined capital city auction clearance rate was the lowest in five weeks.
Although auction clearance rates fell last week they remain much higher than they were at the same time last year when they were recorded at 68.8%.
Melbourne’s auction clearance rate fell from 79.6% the previous week to 77.0% last week while auction volumes rose to 1,441 from 385.
In Sydney, clearance rates also fell from 77.8% to 76.8% while auction volumes increased from 803 the previous week to 1,001 last week.
Canberra, Perth and Tasmania recorded higher auction clearance rates last week compared to the previous week while all other regions analysed recorded a fall in clearance rates over the week.
Note that sales listings are based on a rolling 28 day count of unique properties that have been advertised for sale
The number of new and total residential properties advertised for sale has fallen over the past week and remain lower than they were a year ago.
Over the 28 days to March 19, there were 47,551 newly advertised residential properties for sale nationally and 30,115 advertised for sale across the combined capital cities.
The number of newly advertised properties for sale is -2.6% lower over the year nationally but 0.7% higher across the combined capital cities.
The number of newly advertised properties available for sale is higher over the year in Sydney (+8.7%), Melbourne (+7.4%), Hobart (+13.9%) and Canberra (+22.0%) but is lower across the remaining capital cities.
Nationally there were 233,592 total properties advertised for sale over the past 28 days with 108,397 advertised across the combined capital cities.
Total advertised stock is -6.9% lower over the year nationally and -3.9% lower across the combined capital cities.
Relative to a year ago, the total volume of housing stock advertised for sale is lower across each capital city.