Monthly overseas arrivals and departures data was released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which showed a record number of overseas tourist arrivals over the month of September.
Tourist numbers were up 2.4% over the month and 11.0% over the year, driven partly by a continuation in the surge of Chinese tourists to Australia (up nearly 22% over the year).
Focusing on net permanent and long-term arrivals to Australia, the trend has continued to show a reduction in overseas migration.
Over the twelve months to September, 282,400 net migrants arrived in Australia which is the lowest rate in eight years.
The softening in permanent and long term arrivals into Australia is likely to foreshadow a further slowing in Australia’s rate of population growth.
Housing finance data was also released this week by the ABS which showed a further slump in the pace of lending to investors
In September 2015 there was a seasonally adjusted $12.3 billion worth of housing finance commitments to investors, this was the lowest value of investor lending since August 2014.
The monthly value of lending to investors has fallen by -12.8% from its peak of $14.1 billion in April 2015.
Clearly the APRA 10% speed limit on the pace of investment lending is having an effect on investment lending, however the annual pace of investment growth remains higher than the APRA target at 10.4% overt the past year.
Investors are also facing a premium on mortgage rates, larger deposit requirements and low rental yields, so its no surprise to see investment appetite cooling.
The monthly consumer confidence reading was released by Westpac and the Melbourne Institute which showed a sharp rise in confidence levels.
The consumer sentiment index was up 3.9% in November to move above the 100 mark (where optimists outweigh pessimists); the third month over the past 20 months where the index has moved into optimistic territory.
The rise in sentiment was somewhat of a surprise considering mortgage rates were lifted shortly before the survey; the Malcom Turnbull effect is likely having a positive influence on consumers.
Importantly, the House Price Expectations Index fell 7.9% over the month to be 18.7% lower over the year.
2,947 auctions were held over the past week, the fifth largest number of auctions held so far this year.
CoreLogic collected results for 91% of all auctions held.
The weighted average clearance rate across the capital cities last week was 61.4% which is approximately the same as last week (61.0%) but slightly lower than the 63.5% recorded a year ago.
Sydney had the largest number of auctions last week, with 1,248 auctions held and a clearance rate of 58.4%; the first time Sydney has seen a clearance rate below 60% since March 2013. 1,204 auctions were held in Melbourne last week with a clearance rate of 69.0%.
Melbourne’s auction market has proved to be more resilient compared with Sydney, with auction clearance rates remaining higher than Sydney’s consistently since the second week of September.
The national number of newly advertised properties was 4.6% lower relative to the same period one year ago to reach 51,331 properties added to the listings pool over the past twenty eight days.
Across the combined capital cities new listings are also 4.4% lower than they were at the same time last year.
The capital cities where listing numbers are higher compared with a year ago are Darwin (+12.1%), Perth (+8.2%) and Sydney (+3.8%) while the remaining capital cities are showing listing numbers to be lower than a year ago.
Higher listing numbers implies more choice for buyers which is likely to dampen any upwards pressure on value growth.
Vendor confidence appears to be higher than a year ago in Melbourne, where new listing numbers are 0.2% higher than last year, Hobart, where new listings are 1.0% higher and Canberra where the number of newly advertised properties is 3.4% higher.