What's the outlook for the Australian property markets for the balance of 2022, and beyond?
This is a common question people are asking now that the housing markets have transitioned from the once-in-a-generation property boom experienced in 202 -21 to the adjustment phase of the property cycle that could be best described as multi-speed.
At one end of the spectrum are Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne are recording slightly falling housing values, while on the other are Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth property values are still rising, but at a slower pace.
We've moved into this next stage of the property cycle faster than some expected, pulled forward by an earlier and more aggressive interest rate tightening cycle due to the RBA's response to a surprisingly strong surge in inflation.
While much of this is due to offshore factors that can be expected to ease over time, the high starting point for inflation and tight labour market domestically means the RBA is moving aggressively on interest rates – taking them from COVID 'emergency' lows to more 'normal' levels.
And this has caused many commentators to warn that we are going to have a housing market crash
I don’t think so! And I'll explain why.
You see… Interest rates are only one of the many factors that affect home prices.
For a property market to "crash" there must be a large number of forced sellers and nobody on the other side of the transaction to purchase their properties meaning they have to give away their properties at very significant discounts.
Remember home sellers are also homebuyers – they have to live somewhere and the only reason that would be forced to sell and give up their home would be if they were not able to keep up their mortgage payments.
This happens when:
- Unemployed levels are high - today anybody who wants a job can get a job.
- Mortgage costs (interest rates) zoom up - despite rising interest rates, are only like you to get to where they were a couple of years ago before the pandemic borrowers could cope then.
Sure, what happens next to our property market will be partly shaped by the speed and extent of interest rate tightenings, but as you will read below there are still many positive factors underpinning our housing markets which means that the property crash which the Property Pessimists are predicting is unlikely to occur.
And we know from recent history that neither the banks, our governments or the RBA want to see a housing market crash and they'd rather support mortgage holders than take over their homes.
Source: CoreLogic, August 1st 2022
The total value of Australia’s residential property market recently surged to $9.9 trillion after growing at the fastest annual pace on record in 2021.
Residential property prices rose 23.7% through 2021, meaning that the collective value of the wealth of property owners increased by $2 trillion in just one year alone!
Now I know some potential buyers are asking:
Well, that's over now - will the property market crash in 2022 or 2023?
They have obviously been listening to those perma-bears who keep telling anyone who's prepared to listen that the property markets are going to crash, but they've made the same predictions year after year and have been wrong in the past and will be wrong again this time.
Australian housing market predictions
You've probably also read those forecasts - you know...that property values will fall 10 to 15%.
In fact... Property Prices Will Fall 30% was a recent headline in the Australian Financial Review by a respected columnist, and here he was not talking about a specific segment of the market, but about "the Australian property market”.
Fact is.... a fall of this magnitude has never happened before.
Not during the recession of the 1990s, not during the global financial crisis and not during the period of a credit squeeze in 2017-18.
The worst slump in the overall Australian property market was after the credit squeeze on 2016-17 and when there were concerns around proposed changes to negative gearing before the 2019 election.
And at that time the peak to trough drop between December 2017 and June 2019 was 9.9%
And considering the current state of the economy, our financial health and property markets there's no credible reason to suggest a fall of this magnitude should happen now.
Sure there will be a housing market correction - it started at the beginning of the year in Sydney and Melbourne - but there will be no property market crash.
Dr Andrew Wilson's Property Forecasts
Now the last few years have shown us how hard it is to forecast property trends… but recently Dr. Andrew Wilson, chief economist of My Housing Market made the following projections for house price growth over the calendar year 2022.
- Sydney property values will end the year down -6%, led by the more expensive end of the market, but this is after home values increased by 31.6% over the last 3 years.
- Melbourne property values will also fall -6% over the calendar year after growing by almost 19% in the last 3 years.
- Brisbane property values will end the year 11% higher
- Adelaide property values will grow by 12% in 2022
- Perth property values will finish the year 9% higher
- Taking a weighted average, the overall Australian mean property value will end up much the same as at the start of the year.
Negative influences on our property markets
Sure our housing markets are facing some headwinds, including:
- Consumer confidence has taken a significant hit and that's affecting our housing markets with buyers being more cautious and many taking a wait-and-see approach, while sellers’ confidence is more fragile.
- Fear of rising inflation and cost of living pressures is sidelining many buyers
- Rising interest rates are reducing borrowing capacity
- Uncertainty about our economic future with all the talk of a recession overseas, ongoing geopolitical problems, the share market falling is dampening buyer and seller confidence
- Affordability issues will constrain many buyers: The impetus of low-interest rates allowing borrowers to pay more has worked its way through the system.
Now, with property values being 20- 30% higher than at the beginning of this cycle - and at a time when wages growth has been moderate at best and minimal in real terms for most Australians - this means that the average home buyer won’t have more money in their pocket to pay more for their home.
- The pent-up demand is waning: While many buyers delayed their home-buying plans over the last few years because of Covid, a significant volume already made their move. There are only so many buyers and sellers out there, so we can expect there will be fewer looking to buy in 2022.
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) has disappeared: Buyers are being more cautious and taking their time to make decisions. This is in stark contrast to last year when many took shortcuts to enter the market.
Strong fundamentals underpinning our housing markets
- There is a shortage of good properties for sale and virtually no properties to rent
- International immigration is picking up and this will increase the demand for housing.
- There is little new construction in the pipeline – we’re just not building enough dwellings and increasing construction costs at a time of a shortage of labour means the end value of new projects will need to be up to 20% higher to make projects financially viable for developers.
- Our economy is still growing strongly and is very resilient
- Unemployment is at historically low levels meaning anyone who wants a job can get a job (so they'll be able to pay the mortgage repayments.)
- Wages are starting to grow
- Household balance sheets are strong - we have a ‘natural buffer’ with $250- $260 billion in aggregate savings nationally, much of it in offset accounts.
- Many borrowers are ahead in their mortgage payments - Matt Comyn, chief executive of Commonwealth Bank recently said that three-quarters of their loans are approximately two years ahead on repayments.
- We have a strong banking system that has been strict in its lending criteria, meaning there are very few non-performing loans.
- There are still Government incentives to encourage first-home buyers into the market.
The last few years have shown us how hard it is to forecast property trends… but here goes - I'm going to share a number of property predictions for the balance of 2022 and beyond.
1. We will see a 2-speed market
We’re already seeing that property price growth is slowing in some areas and falling in others.
As you can see from the chart below we're experiencing a 2-speed property market.
There are houses, apartments, townhouses and villa units located in the outer suburbs, middle ring suburbs, inner suburbs and the CBD.
And they're all behaving differently.
But overall, our markets have slowed down, in part due to falling consumer confidence (the RBA wants to slow down our enthusiasm in order to dampen inflation) and in a large part due to affordability issues.
In short, buyers need more money to buy a property…. but they aren’t able to borrow as much as they could when interest rates were lower.
And the rising inflation and cost of living mean a deposit is harder to save.
So it’s easy to see why we’re entering a downturn, isn’t it?
But wait, there's more.
A rise in new listings in Sydney and Melbourne has taken some pressure out of the market, while there has been a shift and rotation in spending from goods back to services on top of a decline in consumer and home buyer confidence thanks to concern about rising rates, inflation and the future of property values.
2. Property prices will continue to rise in some locations, but at a slower pace
While many factors affect property values, the main drivers of property price growth are consumer confidence, availability of credit, low-interest rates, economic growth and a favourable supply and demand ratio.
Australia’s low mortgage rates continue to underpin very strong growth in property prices in certain markets - in particular Brisbane and Adelaide and very selected regional locations.
The following chart shows that home buyers and investors are still obtaining finance approvals and this means they intend to buy property.
As I said, we’re in the downturn phase of the property cycle, and sure, the value of some properties may decrease in the coming year – some by as much as 10% - but that will only be in the short term.
Yet there are still some strong patches in the Melbourne and Sydney property market where A-grade homes and investment-grade properties are still selling well.
It’s a bit like having one hand in a bucket of hot water and another hand in a bucket of cold water and saying “on average I feel comfortable”.
However strategic investors are not phased by this stage of the cycle, they understand real estate is a long-term game and they’re more focussed on the long-term rise in values rather than short-term slumps.
Housing price growth is slowing and it's likely prices will keep falling a little as the RBA continues its rapid tightening cycle in order to quell the rise in inflation.
It's likely the cash rate will lift to 2.6% by early 2023 as inflation keeps rising.
While fixed rates have already risen sharply, the steep increases in the cash rate will flow through to variable mortgage rates, lifting minimum repayments significantly and reducing borrowing power.
On the other hand, the return of immigration, falling unemployment and rising wages as well as rising exports and a strong economy will be supportive factors.
3. …But not in all areas
Not all locations will continue growing strongly moving forward.
While affordability constraints will limit property price growth in Sydney and Melbourne, the smaller capital cities are still likely to perform strongly.
But more than that, within each city capital growth will be fragmented - I can see properties located in the inner and middle-ring suburbs, particularly in gentrifying locations, significantly outperforming cheaper properties in the outer suburbs.
While the outer suburban and more affordable end of the markets have performed strongly so far, affordability is now becoming an issue as the locals have had minimum little wage growth during the time when property prices have boomed.
In these locations, the residents don’t have more money in their pay packet to pay the higher prices the properties are now achieving.
More than that, Covid19 has adversely affected low-income earners to a greater extent than middle and high-income earners who are likely to recover their income back to pre-pandemic levels more quickly, while many have not been hit at all.
Another trend that is emerging is the top end (luxury end) of the property markets is driving the market weakness.
4. Property demand from home buyers will continue to be strong
Last year when home prices surged around Australia the media kept reminding us we were in a property boom.
The result was that emotions ran high and FOMO was a common theme around Australia’s property markets.
Now that overall growth in our property markets has slowed as we discussed above buyers are becoming more selective.
Yet there are still more buyers in the market for A-grade homes and investment-grade properties than there are properties for sale and this will underpin the values of this type of property moving forward.
Sure some of the discretionary buyers are now out of the market, but people are still getting married, others are getting divorced and some are having babies and they usually require new homes, so our property markets are going to keep on keeping on.
5. Investors will keep entering the property market
As rents rise and the share of first-home buyers drops, strategic investors with a realistic long-term focus will return to the market.
In fact, they already are!
6. …And they’ll squeeze out first home buyers
While there were many first-time buyers (FHBs) in the market in 2021, buoyed by the many incentives being offered to them, now demand from FHBs is fading as property investors re-enter the market and property values rise.
Of course over the last few years, investor lending has been low, but with historically low-interest rates and easing lending restrictions, investors are back with a vengeance.
7. Neighbourhood will become more important and people will pay a premium to be in the right neighbourhood
If Coronavirus taught us anything, it was the importance of living in the right type of property in the right neighbourhood.
Now that we have emerged from our Covid cocoons there is a flight to quality properties and an increased emphasis on liveability.
As their priorities change, some buyers will be willing to pay a little more for properties with “pandemic appeal” and a little more space and security, but it won’t be just the property itself that will need to meet these newly evolved needs – a “liveable” location will play a big part too.
In our new “Covid Normal” world, people will pay a premium for the ability to work, live and play within a 20-minute drive, bike ride or walk from home.
They will look for things such as shopping, business services, education, community facilities, recreational and sporting resources, and some jobs all within 20-minutes' reach.
Residents of these neighbourhoods have now come to appreciate the ability to be out and about on the street socialising, supporting local businesses, being involved with local schools, and enjoying local parks.
Many inner suburbs of Australia’s capital cities and parts of their middle suburbs already meet the 20-minute neighbourhood tests, but very few outer suburbs do because there is a lower developmental density, less diversity in its community, and less access to public transport.
And ‘neighbourhood’ is important for property investors too, and here’s why.
In short, it’s all to do with capital growth, and we all know capital growth is critical for investment success, or just to create more stored wealth in the value of your home.
Sure there is always the opportunity to add value through renovating your property or making a quick buck when buying well.
But these are one-offs and won’t make a long-term difference if your property is not in the right location, because you can’t change or upgrade the location.
This is key because we know that 80% of a property’s performance is dependent on the location and its neighbourhood.
In fact, some locations have even outperformed others by 50-100% over the past decade.
And it’s likely that moving forward, thanks to the current environment, people will place a greater emphasis on neighbourhood and inner and middle-ring suburbs where more affluent occupants and tenants will be living.
These ‘liveable’ neighbourhoods with close amenities are where capital growth will outperform.
How do we identify these locations?
What makes some locations more desirable than others?
A lot has to do with the demographics – locations that are gentrifying and also locations that are lifestyle locations and destination locations that aspirational and affluent people want to live in will outperform.
It's well known that the rich do not like to travel and they are prepared to and can afford to pay for the privilege of living in lifestyle suburbs and locations with a high walk score – meaning they have easy access to everything they need.
So lifestyle and destination suburbs where there is a wide range of amenities within a 20-minute walk or drive are likely to outperform in the future.
Hence why, as discussed above, these areas will fetch a premium.
At the same time, many of these suburbs will be undergoing gentrification - these will be suburbs where incomes are growing, which therefore increases people’s ability to afford, and pay higher prices, for the property.
8. Rent prices will increase strongly
Australia is experiencing a rental crisis.
Increased rental demand at a time of very low vacancy rates will see rentals continue to rise throughout 2022.
Then when our international borders reopen this will further increase the demand for rental housing.
If you think about it...when people initially move to a country or region, most rent first.
In addition, when foreign students return we'll see increased pressure on apartment rents close to education facilities and in our CBDs.
Yet despite the lack of immigration over the last few years, just look at how rentals rose - especially for houses.
And as rising house rentals will create affordability issues for many tenants, apartment rentals will also increase in 2022.
9. Migration will resume
Freed from the constraints of needing to travel to a CBD office each day, and sick and tired of being locked down in our southern states, many Aussies migrated northwards to south-east Queensland last year.
And now that Australia’s internal borders have opened up it's likely that the northern migration will continue into 2022 driven by Queensland’s more affordable housing and perceived lifestyle benefits.
This, in addition to employment growth, long-term benefits of hosting the Olympics and the extra infrastructure building, means this part of Australia is looking particularly positive.
Not only this but overseas migration has also resumed, putting extra pressure on our housing markets, particularly in inner-city areas and near student campuses.
10. The property cycle will be dominated by upgraders
The current property and economic environment, plus the scars left on many of us after a year or two of Covid-related lockdowns, have meant that Aussies are looking to upgrade their lifestyle, and this is something we’re going to see even more of in the coming years.
In fact, there are four key types of ‘upgraders’ we’re likely to see more from during this property cycle.
- Tenants upgrading to better rentals - Many tenants are no longer happy to live in small dingy apartments and with an oversupply of rental units available in many areas, they are taking the opportunity to upgrade their accommodation. Other tenants who have managed to save a deposit are taking advantage of many of the many incentives available and are becoming first home buyers.
- Homeowners upgrading to larger, better, homes - With interest rates still relatively low many existing homeowners are upgrading their accommodation to larger homes in better neighbourhoods. In fact, a recent survey suggested that one in three homeowners are looking to sell their homes in the next 5 years.
- Homeowners looking for a sea- or tree-change - While small group homeowners are upgrading their lifestyle and moving out of the big smoke to regional Australia, more Aussies are looking to upgrade their lifestyle by moving to a better neighbourhood.As mentioned above, they love the thought that most of the things needed for a good life are just around the corner.
- Baby boomers downgrading - Many Baby Boomers are looking to upgrade their accommodation by moving out of their old, tired family homes into large family-friendly apartments or townhouses. But they’re not looking for a sea change or tree change, they’re keen to live in “20-minute” neighbourhoods close to their family and friends.
11. Our economy and employment will remain robust
Sure the RBA wants to slow down our spending a little to bring down inflation, but despite this our economy will keep growing (albeit a little slower) and the unemployment rate will remain low as many new jobs will be created as our economy grows.
So, what's ahead for our economy?
Despite all its challenges, the Australian economy will continue to perform well and is unlikely to fall into recession.
In its recent Statement of Monetary Policy, the RBA explained...
A strong expansion in the Australian economy is underway.
This is expected to continue over the forecast period, despite the slowdown in global growth.
The domestic outlook is supported by the substantial boost to national income from high commodity prices and growth in private consumption and investment.
The following 2 charts are the RBA's forecasts for:
- economic growth for the next few years - our economy will remain the envy of many other countries
- unemployment - they are still expecting strong job growth.
Inflation and interest rate outlook
The RBA has recently warned that inflation in Australia could rise to 7% by the end of 2022 before slowing falling and they expect it will be quite some time before inflation remains in their preferred range of 2-3%
The rapidly changing inflation and interest rate situation has impacted the outlook for Australia's housing markets, pulling forward and steepening the forecast price slowdown.
Most economists expect the RBA to lift the cash rate to 2.65% by May 2023, a much earlier and more aggressive tightening than envisaged at the beginning of the year.
This has caused some concerns regarding mortgage stress leading the regular band of ‘negative nellies’ to say this will lead to forced sales and drive down our property market.
However, I believe this is unlikely for a number of reasons:
- Interest rates will only end up where they were 2-3 years ago and we weren't troubled by mortgage stress then.
- The banks have been conservative and anyone who borrowed in the last few years had the serviceability checked based on the presumption that it would rise at least 2% if not 3%.
- Aussies have built up a significant war chest of savings in their offset accounts and more than half of mortgage holders have paid their mortgage many months in advance.
- Half of the Australian homeowners have no debt at all, while most people who bought a property in the last couple of years already have significant equity, investors are getting higher rent while homeowners are getting higher wages.
- Our economy is growing strongly and anyone who wants a job can get a job – inflation and high-interest rates are a concern when unemployment creeps up and people can't pay their mortgages, but that's not the case at present.
- The Australian residential real estate market is too big to fail - neither the banks want property values to drop – it's not really in their interest.
Here's what the banks say about property prices
You may remember that at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, economists from Australia's 4 big banks predicted our property markets would crash with house prices plummeting anywhere between 10 and 15%.
Of course, they were wrong.
They have once again amended their forecasts with our 4 Big Banks suggesting that interest rates will rise faster than initially forecast strangling our property markets and causing home prices to fall throughout 2022 and 2023.
This is what's been happening to Australian house prices over the last year…
So how long will this cycle continue?
Remember the current upturn phase of the property cycle really only commenced in October 2020.
Normally the upturn stage of the property cycle lasts a number of years and is followed by a shorter boom phase which is eventually cut short by the RBA raising interest rates or by APRA introducing macro-prudential controls to dampen the exuberance of property investors and home buyers.
However, this time around we have experienced an unprecedented rate of growth seeing our property markets perform even more strongly than anyone ever expected, with the rates of house price growth at levels not seen for a number of decades.
While a lot has been said about the +20% increase in property values many locations have enjoyed so far this cycle, it must be remembered that the last peak for our property markets was in 2017 and in many locations housing prices remain stagnant over a subsequent couple of years which means that average price growth was unexceptional over the long term, averaging out at around 5 per cent per annum over the last 5 years.
Now I know some people are worried and wondering: "Are the Australian property markets going to crash in 2022 0r 2023?"
They hear the perpetual property pessimists who've been chasing headlines and telling everyone who's prepared to listen that the Australian property markets are going to crash and housing values could drop up to 20% - but just look at the terrible track records - they've been predicting this every year for the last decade and they've been wrong.
I've recently written a detailed article outlining 10 Reasons Why Our Property Markets Won't Crash - you can read it here.
What is really holding back the market currently is affordability with house price growth getting well ahead of wage growth.
Yet our housing markets just keep bounding along…
What drives Australian property prices?
As we discussed earlier, there isn’t ‘one’ Australian property market.
In fact, there isn’t even just one Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane etc. property market either.
Every market in every area is segmented, and prices in some of these segments will outperform going forwards, while others will not.
But forecasting Australian house prices isn’t as simple as it might seem.
In the medium term, property values will be linked to the extent that our economic recovery affects income, employment, borrowing capacity, and credit availability.
Generally, this boils down to two basic economic concepts: Supply and demand, and inflation.
However, there is a sub-component of demand, called “capacity-to-pay”, which is often overlooked.
Understanding how these concepts work together to affect real estate is crucial to one’s belief or doubt about whether real estate values will rise.
In a free-market economy, prices of any commodity will tend to drop when supply is high and demand is low.
In other words, when there is more than enough of something, it is said to be a “buyer’s market” because sellers must compete, typically by lowering the price, to attract a buyer.
Conversely, when supply is low and demand is high, prices will tend to rise as buyers bid up pricing to compete for the limited supply. This is called a “seller’s market”.
Let’s look at it this way….
- With regard to supply…. they aren’t making any more real estate in the most desirable areas and by this, I’m talking about the dirt, not the buildings.
- With regards to demand, Australia has a business plan to increase the population to 40,000,000 people in the next 30 years.
Now we’ve covered the two basic economic concepts, let's take a look at the 8 key underlying fundamentals supporting our property markets in the medium-long term.
1. Population growth
For the last few decades, continued strong population growth has been a key driver supporting our property markets.
Australia’s population was growing by around 360,000 people per annum, meaning we needed to build around 170,000-180,000 new dwellings each year to accommodate all the new households.
Over the last two years, population growth stagnated, but this should increase again now that the gates have been opened and over 200,000 overseas immigrants will be allowed to come to our shores.
Of course, Australia is likely to be seen as one of the safe havens in the world moving forward.
At the same time, the number of new properties listed for sale in our capital cities is falling creating an imbalance of supply and demand.
2. Housing supply
Housing supply clearly has a significant influence over house prices: an undersupply puts pressure on prices to rise while an oversupply would do the opposite.
The oversupply of dwellings previously experienced in many Australian locations has now disappeared and there are very few new large development projects on the drawing board.
Considering how long it takes to build new estates or large apartment complexes, we’re going to experience an undersupply of well-located properties in our capital cities in the next year or two.
3. House size trends have changed
Also on the topic of supply, Australian households have aged and pretty soon millennials will make up one-third of the property market and their household trend, in general, is for smaller-sized properties.
More one and two-person households mean that moving forward, we will need more dwellings for the same number of people.
4. Interest rates
A low-interest-rate environment makes it possible for buyers to borrow more money, and more cheaply.
This in turn, as we saw over the past couple of years, creates a headwind for buyers.
More buyers mean supply struggles to catch up, and an imbalance occurs.
In the current market, interest rates are rising quickly, and are expected to hike further throughout the remainder of the year.
But they are still comparatively low.
The prevailing low-interest-rate environment, therefore, is making it easier to own a home, either as an owner-occupier or investor.
- Also read:Foreign investor crackdown: Australia pulls back the welcome mat
- Also read:11 factors that affect the value of your property
- Also read:Rising interest rates are not slowing discretionary spending
- Also read:New research suggests that prices in Australia’s unit market set to rise
- Also read:Latest property price forecasts for 2023 revealed. What’s ahead in our housing markets in the next year or two?
Increased rental demand at a time of very low vacancy rates will see rentals continue to rise throughout 2022.
And this will put pressure on the housing supply.
Soon 40% of our population will be renters, partly because of affordability issues but also because of lifestyle choices.
The government isn’t providing accommodation for these people. That’s up to you and me as property investors.
On the other hand, the pressurised rental market will force some would-be-buyers to get into the property market sooner than planned.
Investors help drive market sentiment and trends which has a knock-on effect on property prices.
In the current market, investors are back with a vengeance.
More investors mean more buyers, which means more demand versus the supply of properties available.
As with all supply and demand dynamics, this puts prices in a pressure cooker.
7. The economy
Another key factor that affects the value of the property market is the overall health of the economy.
This is generally measured by economic indicators such as the gross domestic product (GDP), employment data, manufacturing activity, the prices of goods, etc.
Broadly speaking, when the economy is sluggish, so is the property and when the economy is strong and confidence is high, this is reflected in property prices.
8. Availability of debt
It goes without saying that the availability of debt directly affects the trajectory of property prices.
At the moment, Australia’s banking system is strong, stable, and sound.
Even though a few home buyers have overcommitted themselves financially, there should be no real concern about household debt because, in general, it is in the hands of those who can afford it.
What's ahead for property prices?
I could boldly claim a 20% house price increase here, or a 5% price drop there… but we all know that’s not how our property markets work.
You see, we already know that our property markets are so segmented (depending on location, property type, potential etc.) so it is impossible to put an accurate figure on where I think our house prices will go in 2022 and beyond.
But what I will say is this.
Price growth might be slowing but there is no ‘crash’ ahead.
Leading housing economist Dr. Andrew Wilson, has made the following forecasts for the balance of 2022
Sydney House Price Forecast
After housing values surged by 28% through the pandemic, Sydney's are now consistently trending lower, chalking up the fifth consecutive month of decline in June.
Since peaking, Sydney housing values have reduced by -3.1% or approximately $35,200.
The weaker conditions can also be seen in less transactional activity, with our estimates of home sales down almost 40% compared with the March quarter a year ago, albeit with some likely disruption from the latest wave of Covid and weather-related events on the housing market’s activity.
As the market cools, the number of home sales has fallen by about a third in the June quarter compared with the same period a year ago, paving the way for a rise in advertised supply and more challenging selling conditions.
With more stock, market conditions are now favouring buyers over sellers with auction clearance rates holding below 60%, while days on market and vendor discounting rates trended higher for private treaty sales.
At Metropole Sydney we’re finding that strategic investors are looking to take advantage of the window of opportunity currently available to them, while homebuyers are still actively looking to upgrade, picking the eyes out of the market.
While overall Sydney property values are likely to fall further over the rest of the year, like all our capital cities there is not one Sydney property market, and A-grade homes and investment-grade properties remain in strong demand are likely to outperform, many holding their values well.
Melbourne House Price Forecast
Housing values across Melbourne increased by 17% through the growth phase, with house values up 21% and unit values rising 11%.
Since peaking in February, house values are down -3% and unit values have reduced by -1%.
Taking the recent decline into consideration, Melbourne housing values are up by 8.6% or roughly $24,200 since the onset of Covid back in March 2020.
As conditions cool, the number of home sales is also trending lower, down by an estimated -18% in the June quarter compared with the same period last year.
As buyer demand wanes, advertised supply levels have risen to be 3% higher than a year ago and 9% above the five-year average for this time of the year.
With more stock, market conditions are now favouring buyers over sellers with clearance rates holding below 60%, while days on market and vendor discounting rates trended higher for private treaty sales.
With higher inventory levels and less competition, buyers are gradually getting some leverage back.
At Metropole Melbourne we’re finding that strategic investors and homebuyers are still actively looking to upgrade, picking the eyes out of the market.
While overall Melbourne property values are likely to fall further over the rest of the year, like all our capital cities there is not one Melbourne property market, and A-grade homes and investment-grade properties remain in strong demand and are likely to outperform, many holding their values well.
Brisbane House Price Forecast
Brisbane remains one of Australia’s strongest capital city housing market, with housing values rising 25.6% higher over the past year.
But Brisbane's rate of growth in housing values has eased sharply, reducing from a quarterly trend of 8.5% through the December quarter to 2.7% in the June quarter.
The monthly rise in Brisbane property values was just 0.1% in June.
Growth conditions are cooling more noticeably for houses than for units.
Over the quarter Brisbane house values were up 2.5% compared with a 3.5% rise in unit values.
As the market slows, the number of home sales through the June quarter was estimated to be -7.5% below the same period last year.
Less demand has also flowed through to a consistent rise in advertised stock levels, along with a rise in average days on market and higher vendor discounting rates.
However, the long-term outlook for Brisbane's housing markets is looking positive, with a strong demographic trend fuelled by interstate migration, a large infrastructure budget, and a burgeoning level of excitement following the announcement that Brisbane would host the 2032 Olympic games.
Similarly, popular areas of the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have enjoyed strong demand considering the increased flexibility of being able to work from home and commuting to the big smoke less frequently.
At the same time, property investor activity has been strong, particularly for houses, not only coming from locals but from interstate investors who see strong upside in Brisbane property prices as well as favourable rental returns.
However, there is not one Queensland property market, nor one southeast Queensland property market, and different locations are performing differently and are likely to continue to do so.
Houses remain a firm favourite of prospective home hunters, with demand rising post-lockdown and it remains significantly elevated compared to last year.
However, apartment demand has been sliding and, in general, apartments in Queensland are a higher risk investment than houses, particularly due to a high supply of apartments that are unsuitable for families or owner-occupiers.
Brisbane is likely to be one of the best performing property markets over the next few years, but while some locations in Brisbane have strong growth potential, the right properties in these locations will make great long-term investments, and certain submarkets should be avoided like the plague.
Our Metropole Brisbane team has noticed a significant increase in local consumer confidence with many more homebuyers and investors showing interest in a property.
At the same time we are getting more enquiries from interstate investors there we have for many, many years.
Canberra House Price Forecasts
Canberra’s property market has been a “quiet achiever” with median house prices recording the biggest jump in prices across all of Australia’s capital cities, at a huge 25.5% in just one year or 3.7% over the quarter, to a new median of $1.015 million according to Domain's House Price Report.
That means that prices soared by almost $1,054 a day over the June quarter to give a total rise of $96,000.
This is the steepest price acceleration in almost three decades, the Domain report explained.
Median house prices in the inner north, inner south, and Woden Valley are now all above seven digits.
But unit price growth has been more restrained as the development boom of recent years contains prices, although they are edging closer to a record high, up a more modest $18,000 (or 3.6%) over the June quarter to $504,217.
Interestingly, since the pandemic, Canberra house prices have risen a huge 30.9% and unit prices 9.4%, which is the highest rate of growth across all of Australia’s cities.
Perth House Price Forecast
Perth housing values were up 0.4% in June, marketing the second month in a row where the rate of capital gain has reduced.
The slowdown follows a temporary rebound in Perth's rate of growth that coincided with reopened state borders, however, it is looking like the Perth market is once again losing some steam alongside the national trend.
Advertised housing stock remains extremely low and is trending lower as buying activity remains elevated, implying selling conditions remain strong across the Perth market.
This is backed up by rapid selling times as homes average just 18 days to sell, although such rapid selling time has occurred as discounting rates have edged higher.
With the median dwelling value of $558,600 remaining the lowest across the capital cities, housing affordability is less challenging than in other capitals, which could help to insulate the Perth housing market from a larger downturn.
Perth’s isolation and economic over-reliance on the mining industry mean many potential home buyers would look at moving away to further their careers.
But the attractive property prices in Western Australia do not mean that investors should jump into the Perth property market – there are better opportunities in other parts of Australia.
The problem is the Western Australian economy is too dependent on one industry – the mining industry and much of this is dependent on China, and this has a direct knock-on effect on Western Australian house prices.
Without structural changes to the WA economy, it is unlikely to be able to deliver the significant number of higher-paying jobs and the substantial increase in population growth required to keep driving strong housing price growth in the medium to long term.
Hobart House Price Forecast
Hobart was the darling of speculative property investors and the best-performing property market in 2017-8, but since then Hobart property growth has slowed.
Hobart property prices have been supported by strong demand and weak market supply.
Here we have pulled together the latest data on Tasmania’s property prices.
MEDIAN PROPERTY PRICES FOR HOBART
|Median/average value/price||MoM change||QoQ change||Annual change|
|Capital city dwellings||$723,066||-1.5%||-1.3%||10.1%|
|Capital city houses||$782,748||-1.2%||-1.3%||10.4%|
|Capital city units||$577,307||-2.5%||-1.6%||8.6%|
Source: Corelogic, 1st August 2022
Adelaide House Price Forecast
Adelaide has continued to stand out as the nation's strongest capital city housing market, with dwelling values up a further 1.3% in June.
Through the growth cycle so far, Adelaide housing values have increased by 44% adding roughly $197,000 to the median dwelling value.
Most of this growth has been centred in the housing market rather than units, with values up 48% through the cycle to date, while unit values are up a smaller 23%.
One of the key factors pushing up prices is the ongoing shortage of advertised supply.
With advertised supply levels still -16% below a year ago and -39% below the previous five-year average, it's likely sellers will continue to see prices rising over the coming months but at a slower pace as interest rates rise and affordability dampens demand.
What about affordability?
With property values rising by more than 20% in most locations around Australia last year, affordability is starting to bite, particularly in lower socio-economic areas and in our two big capital cities.
But Australian properties have never been cheap - and they never have been if you want to live in great locations in any major world-class city.
Yet now first home buyers are starting to feel the pinch due to the impact of high and rising home prices.
The latest results for the February quarter from the My Housing Market First Home Buyer Home Loan Affordability Index however reveal a slight improvement in national affordability.
The My Housing Market First Home Buyer Home Loan Affordability Index measures the proportion of the average income required for the average first home buyer home loan repayment and is derived from ABS statistics.
The higher the Index value the less affordable first home buyer home loan repayments.
The national First Home Buyer Home Loan Affordability Index fell marginally by 0.2% over the February quarter but remained 10.0% higher than recorded over the February quarter of 2021.
Long-term prospects for Australian property markets (2025-2030)
Currently, there are about 25.5 million Australians and in early 2021 the Government released the Intergenerational Report (IGR) to help Australia and the businesses plan for the next 40 years.
The IGR projects an Australian population of 38.8 million by 2060-61, and even though this is a little lower than previous projections – due to Covid slowing things down - this still means Australia’s population is projected to grow faster than most other developed countries.
Despite the reduction of the projected population, these trends are truly monumental.
If you think about it, it’s taken Australia well over 200 years since European settlement to reach a population of 25.5 million people today.
But in the next 40 years, our population will increase by around 13.3 million people.
In other words, it will increase by over 50%!
To make this worse, currently, there are 2.5 people in each household, but the IGR forecasts the average number of people in each household will shrink a little moving forward, meaning we are going to require about a third more real estate than we currently have.
To deal with the projected population growth between now and 2061 it’s likely we’re going to require one new property built for every two properties that currently exist!
All this means our way of living is going to change considerably and town planners will struggle to cope with this growth.
So when we think about the real estate forecast for the next five years in Australia, we have to think about how population growth will impact property investment choices.
And how strategic, knowledgeable investors will be well-placed to capitalise on the changing trends.
What we predict for Australia’s property market is that there will be many more high-rise towers of apartments, not just in the CBD but in our middle-ring suburbs.
In fact, we are already starting to see this, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney.
And we also expect there will be lots more medium-density housing – in particular townhouses will be a popular way to live with modern large accommodation on more compact blocks of land.
Great, so what are the predicted house prices in 2030 Australia?
It would be foolish to try to forecast property prices moving forward because no one really knows what’s going to happen to inflation and interest rates.
But what we can see is that as more of us want to live in the large capital cities of Australia (and in particular in those locations close to the CBD or the water) where there will be more manatees, and the scarcity will only push the price of properties upwards.
Other questions I often get asked
When will housing prices drop in Australia?
This is a difficult question to answer because there is no ‘one’ property market, but there are multiple markets, each in their own stage of the property cycle.
Prices have already fallen 5 to 10% in the more expensive suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, but these of the suburbs that lead to the significant price growth of the last couple of years and they are always the more volatile locations.
On the other hand there is still strong demand for "A grade" homes and investment grade properties in the middle ring suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney.
Brisbane and Adelaide are still exhibiting property price growth but at a slower rate
But, broadly speaking, what I expect for the future of property prices is that property price growth will slow throughout 2022, and beyond, as demand eases and regulators tighten lending requirements.
But they won’t crash.
Our economy is strong, migration will continue to increase, supply is low and our rental markets are under a lot of pressure.
These factors, combined with Australia’s robust economy and still-low interest rates will help to support our property market, and therefore property prices, for the future.
Is there a property bubble in Australia?
As we exit the ‘boom’ stage of the property cycle, some experts are warning that we could be in a property price bubble about to burst.
But, there’s a huge difference between property booms and price bubbles.
Bubbles invariably bust and when they do, housing prices end up much lower than where they started.
Property booms on the other hand, eventually run out of steam with an occasional small price correction followed by a prolonged period of little to no growth.
The issue is that they both look the same at the start.
So what’s the difference between a boom and bubble?
It’s the type of buyers causing the growth.
Buying demand from investors grows when prices rise and the more that they increase, the more that investors want to buy properties.
Whereas owner-occupier booms take place despite price growth and the more that prices rise, the more that demand slows down and then stops as prices become unaffordable.
Only investor led booms can become bubbles.
Investor led booms can become bubbles because investors don’t buy properties to live in, like owner-occupiers do.
Profit is their only consideration, and fear of loss their only concern.
This means that when price growth slows down or stops, investors start to put their properties on the market and try to sell.
When the number of properties for sale exceeds buyer demand, prices start to fall.
Panic starts to set in as more and more investors try to sell and because no one wants to buy, the bubble busts.
So, are we in a property bubble?
Because the property boom seen in 2020-21 was a result of buyers taking advantage of extremely low interest rates and government incentives designed to keep our economy afloat amid a slowdown.
These were mainly owner-occupier buyers looking to upgrade their existing property or even those looking to jump on the property ladder sooner than planned to take advantage of the cheaper borrowing costs.
This was not an investor led speculative bubble.
Owner-occupier booms merely slow down and when they end prices don’t crash, because the purchased properties are now people’s homes.
When buyer demand comes to an end, there’s no motivation to sell.
Only those homeowners who really need to move for personal, family or business reasons will do so.
Property booms can occur anytime and anywhere that the demand for housing outpaces the supply, but only investor led booms can turn into bubbles (but usually don't).
Should I buy a house now or wait until 2023?
For some of you who are reading this right now, 2022 will absolutely be the worst possible time you could consider buying a property.
There is the spectre of higher interest rates, the continual media coverage predicting falling property values and an imminent property crash (which by the way is wrong) and geopolitical tensions around the world.
In fact for some people, moving forward with a real estate purchase this year would have the potential to cripple them financially, not just now but well into the future.
But the reality is that for investors, there is no ‘best’ or ‘worst’ time to buy property.
Property investment is a process, not just an event.
So rather than just talking about going out and buying a property in 2022, or how to time the market to best purchase a property, the right time for you to consider investing is when you have all your ducks in a row and it suits your finances and your long term plans.
This means you have:
- A strategic property plan, so you know where you're heading and what you need to do to achieve your financial goals,
- Set up the right ownership structures to protect your assets and legally minimise your tax,
- A robust finance strategy with a rainy day buffer in place to buy you time
Is it worth buying a house in Australia?
In terms of capital growth, it might not have the speed of crypto or stocks, but in terms of delivering consistent results over time, Australia’s real estate is a spectacular investment.
Australia’s property market has consistently delivered results over time.
In fact, Australia’s property boom saw 5 Aussie cities placed in Knight Frank’s global top 20 for prime property price growth in 2022.
International property consultancy Knight Frank’s Prime Global Cities Index Q1 2022, crowned the Gold Coast as Australia’s top-ranking prime property market thanks to robust property price growth.
The city ranked in 7th place with a 19.3% annual hike in prime property prices.
Sydney came in close behind in 9th place with a 16% increase in prices while Brisbane and Perth came in 12th and 13th place with respective 11.3% and 11% increases.
Melbourne also made the top 20 list in 14th place with a 10.9% annual price growth.
You may also be interested in reading:
- How to Choose a Property Advisor
- This week’s Australian Property Market Update
- Latest Australian Property Markets News and Forecasts
- Why 2022 is the WORST time to buy property
- Everything you need to know about the state of Australia's property markets in 17 charts