The Westpac-Melbourne Institute’s Consumer Sentiment Index results for July 2015 have been released.
In the absence of an interest rate cut at the start of the month the Index has once again plunged into pessimistic territory.
The Index was recorded at 92.2 points in July, its lowest reading since December of last year and -3.2% lower over the month.
The only two components of the Index which are currently more optimistic than pessimistic are: family finances over the next 12 months and time to buy a major household item, they are also the only two components that recorded an increase over the month.
Longer term the data indicates that pessimism has taken hold of households; the Index of family finances over the past 12 months hasn’t been positive since January 2008.
Meanwhile the indices for economic conditions over the next 12 month and the index for economic conditions over the next 5 years haven’t been optimistic since December 2013.
The time to buy a dwelling index fell by -15.4% over the month to be at its lowest level since June 2010.
In NSW the time to buy a dwelling index fell -19% to its lowest level since February 2008.
The decline may reflect growing concerns about affordability, particularly in Sydney, and the fact that sentiment is starting to shift away from housing investment.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics released quarterly building activity for March 2015 earlier this week
The data is a valuable release because it provides an update on figures for how many new dwellings have moved from the approval phase to commencement and completion.
Dwelling commencements data shows that nationally there were 53,901 commencements over the quarter with 28,671 houses commenced and 24,371 units commenced.
Both house and units commencements increased over the quarter however, they were lower than their recent peak in the September 2014 quarter.
Highlighting the renewed popularity of apartment development, year-on-year house commencements have increased by 3.9% while unit commencements are 20.4% higher.
Dwelling completions data for March 2015 shows that there were a record 48,274 dwellings completed over the quarter.
Although the dwelling figure was at a record high, neither houses nor units individually were at a record high.
Over the quarter dwelling completions had increased by 6.1% and year-on-year they have increased by 24.5%.
CoreLogic RP Data was tracking 1,704 auctions over the past week, which was an increase from the 1,674 auctions the previous week.
The weighted average clearance rate across the capital cities was 74.9%; the first time in 18 weeks that the clearance rate was below 75%.
The national clearance rate fell from 76.8% the previous week.
The largest auction market, Melbourne, saw 655 auctions held last week with a clearance rate of 77.4%.
Auction volumes were up from the 640 auctions the previous week while clearance rates were at their lowest level in 16 weeks.
In Sydney there were 791 auctions with a clearance rate of 78.8% last week.
Auction volumes increased over the week while the clearance rate fell.
Last week was the first time Sydney’s auction clearance rate was below 80% since the beginning of February.
With school holidays now over we are expecting auction volumes to bounce back which will test whether clearance rates can maintain their high reading with higher volumes.
The number of new homes being advertised for sale has increased over the past week along with a rise in total listings.
Despite the increase, total listings nationally remain lower than a year ago, down -1.0% while capital city listings are -1.6% lower.
Over the past four weeks there have been 43,899 newly advertised properties added to the market which is 15.7% more than at the same time one year ago.
A similar trend can be seen across the capital cities where 26,178 new listings hit the market over the past four weeks which is 12.5% higher than at the same time last year.
The number of new listings is higher currently compared to the same time in 2014 across all cities except Perth and Darwin where housing market conditions have been the weakest amongst the capital cities.
Meanwhile, although total capital city stock is lower than a year ago, it is being fuelled by a significant decline in listings compared to a year ago in Sydney (-12.8%) and Melbourne (-10.9%). Perth (+23.0%) and Darwin (+24.0%) have seen a substantial rise in listings relative to last year while listings are slightly higher in Brisbane (+4.2%).
Although both new and total listings are trending higher new listings are doing so at a faster pace than total listings, indicative of a fairly rapid rate of sale which is largely due to the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets.