The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) held their August board meeting this week where they kept the cash rate on hold for the third month running at 2.0%.
The strong growth emanating from the Sydney housing market was likely a key topic of conversation when the RBA deliberated the interest rate setting, with the statement released after the decision stating:
“Dwelling prices continue to rise strongly in Sydney, though trends have been more varied in a number of other cities.
The Bank is working with other regulators to assess and contain risks that may arise from the housing market”.
With interest rate settings remaining at their historically low setting, the RBA will be looking towards recent prudential supervisory activities by APRA to dampen investment demand which should assist in slowing the rapid pace of value growth across Australia’s two largest cities.
We are expecting investor demand will start to moderate as investment loans are both more difficult and costly to obtain.
One of the surprises from the RBA statement was the lack of any reference to further depreciation of the Australian dollar being ‘both likely and necessary’.
The deletion of this commentary from the RBA’s statement adds to the speculation that further interest rate cuts may not eventuate.
The CoreLogic RP Data Home Value Indices were released early this week as well, which showed capital city dwelling values surged 2.8% higher in July, taking capital city dwelling values 11.1% higher over the year.
Sydney and Melbourne continue to drive the high rates of growth with dwelling values up 18.4% in Sydney over the past twelve months while Melbourne values were 11.5% higher.
Every other capital city has recorded annual growth of less than 4.0% over the past year.
In other data updates over the week, retail sales were up 0.7% over the month which pushed the annual growth to 3.6%.
Highlighting the contrast in consumer spending between the mining and non-mining states, retail sales were 1.5% higher across the aggregated mining states and 3.5% higher across the non-mining states.
At a national level, the strong retail sales numbers are likely supported by the two rate cuts this year as well as tax concessions for small businesses
High demand from the housing sector is also fueling spending on housing related goods such as home furnishings, homewares and electrical goods which recorded some of the most substantial increases in the retail spending figures.
CoreLogic RP Data was tracking 1,903 auctions last week; 240 less than the previous week but almost 350 more than the same week a year ago.
The weighted average clearance rate held relatively firm over the week, with 74.6% of reported auction results recording a successful result.
Despite the stable reading, clearance rates have been drifting lower since the first week of May.
With the spring auction season just around the corner, the strength of auction clearance rates in the face of higher auction volumes will provide a timely test of the fit between buyer and seller expectations.
Sydney hosted the largest number of auctions across the capital cities last week, with 825 homes put under the hammer.
The clearance rate was 76.0% (the lowest clearance rate since December last year).
There were 787 auctions held across Melbourne last week, with 78.2% recording a successful result.
This was Melbourne’s highest clearance rate in three weeks.
The number of newly advertised residential properties entering the market has surged over the past month, up 10.1% nationally compared with the same period a year ago and 13.2% higher across the capital cities.
The high number of new listings is being driven by strong vendor confidence in Sydney (+23.7%), Melbourne (+19.1%) and Canberra (+21.7%).
Total listings remain lower than a year ago in these cities, but if the rate of new listings entering the market ramps up into Spring as expected, we are likely to see total stock levels move higher than what they were a year ago.
The cities where housing market conditions are softer are recording slower levels of new listing supply and higher total stock levels than a year ago as the absorption rate continues to ease.
Total listing numbers in Darwin are 21.8% higher than a year ago and Perth listings are 17.2% higher.