The biggest stories concerned the Stage 4 Lockdown in Melbourne and how this would affect our property markets and the economy.
The underlying trend in prices have continued to soften in the wake of the pandemic, across the major capital cities barring Adelaide where prices have been more resilient.
Since Australia’s international borders were closed on 22 March;
- Sydney prices have eased 1.8%,
- Melbourne have softened by 3.8%,
- Perth property values eased by 2.1%,
- Brisbane home values are broadly steady (-0.3%),
- Adelaide prices have risen 0.7%.
The Melbourne property market will now go into hibernation as Victorian Premier Andrews announced a State of Disaster for Victoria to be in force for six weeks through September 13.
To help keep you up-to-date with all that’s happening in property, here is my updated weekly analysis of data and charts provided by Corelogic and realestate.com.au.
Then further down in this long article you’ll find a more detailed State by State update using Corelogic’s monthly July 2020 charts.
Early Market Indicators
Let’s start with the number of indicators that could give us a clue to what’s ahead.
- Buyer activity edged higher last week as shown by realestate.com.au’s Weekly Demand Report
Nationally buyer search activity realestate.com.au fell by -3.4 per cent, which was the largest weekly decline in 19 weeks.
However, a closer look at the data shows the national figure has been significantly pulled down by a large fall in Victoria (-13.3%).
Most other states recorded more modest falls; New South Wales (-1.5%), South Australia (-1.3%), Western Australia (-0.1%) and Tasmania (-1.7%).
Nationally, buyer search volumes have now declined by -4.9 per cent from their peak.
In Victoria search volumes are -18.6 per cent below their peak.
Despite the recent decline in search volumes nationally, it’s important to note volumes are still 28.8 per cent higher than they were a year ago.
Even in Victoria, search volumes remain 9.4 per cent higher than last year.
And while lockdowns are likely to impact on search behaviour for a few weeks (based on the data from the first lockdown period) REA expect that search behaviour will start to rebound as cases come under control and individuals start to see an end to the lockdown period.
The largest year-on-year increases in for sale search volumes have been recorded in Australian Capital Territory (98.5%) and Northern Territory (40.6%).
Melbourne’s second round of COVID-19 restrictions are having more of an impact on the property market than the first, with search activity dropping significantly in Victoria last week.
The -13.3 per cent fall in for sale search volumes in Victoria as the state went back into lockdown marked the largest weekly decline this year.
This highlights that, at least initially, the re-implementation of lockdowns in Victoria is having a bigger impact on search behaviour than the first round did.
The following chart from Corelogic shows the change in the number of new residential listings being advertised for sale or rent in the past 7 days.
Over the last week the number of new properties coming on the market for sale dropped by close to 3% – not surprising considering the concern about Coronavirus and the number of new properties advertised for sale virtually steady over the month also.
At the same time there have been 5% fewer new properties advertised for lease, reversing the prevailing trend over the last few months.
Realestate.com.au tracks the number of rental searches on its portal and reports that after rental demand steadied last week after falling for five weeks consecutive weeks.
Search data from realestate.com.au shows that the rental market is following a similar trend.
Last week national rental search volumes fell -2.8 per cent led by a -16.9 per cent drop in Victoria – the largest drop experienced in 2020.
Falls were also recorded in Tasmania (-0.5%) and Northern Territory (-2.0%), while increases were recorded in Queensland (3.7%) and Western Australia (1.7%).
The largest decline in rental search volumes from the peak has been recorded in Victoria (-25.8%) followed by Northern Territory (-20.4%), while the smallest falls have been recorded in Australian Capital Territory (-2.6%) and New South Wales (-3.9%).
Although there have been recent declines in weekly national rental search volumes, last week they were still 8.9 per cent higher than at the same time last year.
Rental search volumes are now lower than they were a year ago in Victoria (-7.6%) and marginally higher in South Australia (7.2%) while Australian Capital Territory (69.4%) and New South Wales (24.6%) have recorded the largest increases.
Lockdowns are having an impact on consumer confidence nationwide and that is likely to contribute to softer search volumes nationally until such time as COVID-19 cases come back under control in Victoria and assuming they remain under control elsewhere.
4. Finance Activity
While many Australians have been busy getting new loans, as you can see from the charts below, more than two thirds of these were for refinancing existing loans, rather than for new property purchases.
Of course this isn’t surprising considering the prevailing low interest rates.
What’s happening to property prices?
Considering all the negative market sentiment, capital city property values have held up pretty well over the last month.
While property values are slipping a little, one has to dig deeper into the numbers to see the full picture.
Certain segments of our markets are holding their values well, with a shortage of A grade homes and investment properties compared to the number of buyers out looking for them meaning that property values in certain locations are creeping up.
On the other hand B grade (secondary) properties are selling at a discount and no one really wants C grade properties.
There is a flight to quality.
Significant policy support and the earlier reopening of the economy have meant the various “worst-case scenarios of 20-30% price falls” that some of the economists have been touting now seem highly unlikely.
However, I still see property values falling a little further as unemployment will remain high, consumer confidence will continue to languish and immigration will fall.
Properties listed for sale
‘New’ listings means the count is of listing events that have so far not been seen in the current calendar year.
This measure provides insight regarding the volume of new properties coming on to the market. An increase in new listings suggests an increasing supply of stock available, and higher seller or lessor activity.
And a positive sign is that vendors seem to be gaining a little confidence, as more are starting to bring their homes onto the market for sale.
The following table shows the total number of properties for sale around our capital cities.
Even though sellers are returning to the market, overall the number of properties listed for sale is down 12.3% over the year.
As you can see from the following chart, despite more properties coming onto the market for sale, the total number of listings (properties available for sale) is falling, and Corelogic report that there are 1.3 buyers in the market for every property for sale.
This confirms what we are finding on the ground Metropole that well located properties are selling quickly with a queue of buyers waiting for them
The number of property transactions
The Coronavirus lockdowns have caused a very significant slow down in transaction numbers.
The following table of private treaty sales (which represents the vast majority of all dwelling sales across the country) shows that over the last week:
- In Melbourne 1,533 houses (last week 1,528) and 688 apartments or units were sold (last week 685) – so over the last few weeks the number of transactions keeps increasing.
- In Sydney 1,270 houses (1,3oo last week) and 683 apartments were sold (752 last week), so the market is continuing its steady growth.
- In Brisbane only 813 houses (751 last week) and 195 apartments were sold (226 last week) -so the market has remained steady, but is considerably more active than a month ago.
Vendor metrics had generally remained steady with the number of days to sell a property decreasing (a sign of the tight supply situation), and vendor discounting (it’s easier for them to sell) at realistic levels.
The shortage of good properties on the market in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne is seeing properties selling quickly with minimal discounting.
But now that discretionary sellers are out of the market and the number of new properties listed for sale has falling significantly, we’ll watch these metrics carefully as they are a good indication of supply and demand.
It is likely that these metrics will start to show that it takes longer for a property to sell and the vendors will be required to offer a higher discount to affect a sale, especially for secondary properties.
Auction clearance rates
There were 1,160 homes taken to auction across the combined capital cities this week, similar to the previous week when 1,154 auctions were held, and slightly higher than this time last year (1,111).
The combined capital city preliminary auction clearance rate was recorded at 65.9 per cent across 882 auction results so far this week, slightly higher than last week’s preliminary result of 65.3 per cent, which later revised down to 58.7 per cent.
This time last year saw a final clearance rate of 67.8 per cent.
The number of auctions held across Melbourne has reduced sharply through the lockdown period, but withdrawal rates have been much lower relative to the previous lockdown period in April and early May earlier this year.
The preliminary collection indicates only 18% of Melbourne auctions were withdrawn from the market this week, compared with a peak of 65% through the second week of April.
Of the 244 auction results collected so far, 73.0 per cent were successful, although this will likely revise lower as the remaining auction results are collected.
Last week saw a final clearance rate of 55.1 per cent recorded across the city, while this time last year, 72.3 per cent of Melbourne auctions were successful.
Sydney was host to 642 auctions this week, up from 566 over the previous week and 367 this time last year. Of the 483 auction results collected so far, 65.8 per cent have returned a successful result.
Last week, a final clearance rate of 60.7 per cent was recorded, while one year ago, a success rate of 76.2 per cent was achieved across Sydney.
Of course the above auction clearance rates were on a relatively very small number of auctions:-
Here is a regional breakdown of auction results:-
Still downward pressure on Sydney & Melbourne rents
Asking rents in Sydney and Melbourne have continued to soften, even though there’s been no further apparent increase in the vacancy rates.
It’s different in the other capital cities.
- Rather than rising, Perth’s rental vacancy rate has continued to decline and now is down to 1.5%.
- Hobart’s rental market also seems to have strengthened with a tight vacancy rate of just under 1.0%.
- Adelaide asking rents have been relatively steady, also with a low 1.0% vacancy rate.
- Brisbane’s market has been more volatile, perhaps stabilising in recent weeks after an earlier period of weakness.
The Statistics above are updated weekly.
The following State by State Data is updated Monthly at the beginning of each month
My commentary below is based on Corelogic’s charts provided at the beginning of June 2020.
Prior to COVID-19 the Sydney property market was on the move having recorded its quickest turnaround in decades.
But Sydney home values slid for a second month in June, down a cumulative 1.2% since a recent peak in April.
The largest falls are occurring across the top quartile of the market where home values have dropped by 1.3% over the June quarter, while the least expensive quarter of the market has actually recorded a subtle rise up two-tenths of a percent over the same period.
Sydney property values are -3.5% below their highs reached in July 2017.
- Sydney house values decreased by -1.0% last month (+13.2% over the last year)
- Sydney unit values decreased by -0.7% last month (+9.5% over the last year.)
While home values are trending lower, rents have also declined, falling by 0.8% over the month to be 1% lower over the year.
The weakest rental conditions are confined to the unit market where rates are down 2.1% over the June quarter.
From a more positive perspective, our estimate of sales activity is up by around 40% from the April low and auction clearance rates have averaged 61% through June.
This implies an improvement in buyer demand and a better fit between buyer and seller pricing expectations.
While A grade homes and investment grade properties are likely to fall a little (- 5- 10%) moving forward, this is a great time for cashed-up investors and homebuyers planning to upgrade to buy a property considerably cheaper than they would have had to pay a few months ago, and for considerably less than they will have to pay this time next year.
B grade (secondary) dwellings may fall in value by 10-15% and C grade properties are likely not to sell at all.
Sure there are fewer good properties for sale at the moment, and almost all the good ones are for sale off market, however if you’d like to know a bit more about how to find these investment gems give the Metropole Sydney team a call on 1300 METROPOLE or click here and leave your details.
Before Coronavirus hit our markets, Melbourne property prices were surging with dwelling values up 12% higher to reach new highs.
However, Melbourne housing values recorded a third consecutive month of declines in June resulting in 2.3% drop in values over the quarter.
Melbourne’s top quartile properties are recording the largest declines, down 3.7% over the second quarter.
Lower quartile values fell by only half a percent.
Previous phases of the housing market have shown a very similar trend with the most expensive segment of the marketplace leading the growth phase as well as the downswings.
Melbourne rents were down six-tenths of a percent in June.
The unit sector recording more substantial downwards pressure on rents than houses.
Despite lower values housing demand has gathered some pace across Melbourne after sales dropped by a third in April, our estimate of sales in June was up almost 60% on that April low.
- Melbourne house values dropped -1.4% last month (+8.9% over the last year.)
- Melbourne unit values decreased -0.7 last month (+8.2% over the last year.)
The monthly fall comes after a strong rebound in housing values since June last year which saw Melbourne dwelling values reach a new record high in February.
Like in Sydney, A grade homes and investment grade properties in Melbourne are likely to fall a little (5- 10%) moving forward.
B grade (secondary) dwellings may fall in value by 10-15% and C grade properties are likely not to sell at all.
At Metropole we’re finding that strategic investors with a long-term view and homebuyers looking to upgrade are still in the market, picking the eyes out of the off market properties.
It’s likely that they see the long-term fundamentals, as Melbourne rates are one of the 10 fastest-growing large cities in the developed world,.
Melbourne’s population was forecast to increase by around 10% in the next 4 years.
Clearly this will slow down now, with restricted borders protecting Australia, but once we “cross the bridge” Melbourne will remain one of the most liveable cities in the world.
Understandably, the coronavirus crisis is creating uncertainty for those interested in the Brisbane property market, however while Brisbane home values have lost their upwards momentum through 2020, but they’ve held reasonably firm through the past few months.
Looking back over the last few years Brisbane’s property downturn in 2018-9 was quite shallow compared to the big two capital cities and following its recent upturn property values growth has slowed.
Brisbane’s housing market has been holding up better than the largest cities with home values recording less downwards pressure.
Despite the relative resilience dwelling values have slipped by 0.2% over the June quarter.
However, Brisbane property prices are still about 55% of Sydney’s while household incomes are only around 12% lower, underpinning the value of Brisbane real estate.
- Brisbane house values have decreased over the last month -0.3 (+4.3% over the last year.)
- Brisbane unit values decreased -0.5% last month (-1.3% over the last year.)
Unit values were down a larger 0.8% while detached House values held firmer down 0.1%.
Brisbane rents have also recorded a mild downturn falling by 0.6% over the June quarter.
However, local rental yields remain well above the combined capital city average tracking at a gross 4.2% for houses and 5.2% for units.
Sales activity has shown a sharp rise over the past two months up by an estimated 74% since activity plunged in April.
In a positive sign of buyer confidence with an easing or removal of some of the COVID related restrictions, sales activity jumped by 22% in May.
But what’s going to happen to the Brisbane housing market moving forward?
With less reliance to overseas migration as a source of housing demand and the largest number of interstate migrants, the Queensland market may be less exposed to downwards pressure in housing values.
Of course Queensland is highly exposed to the Chinese economy, in particular tourism, education and foreign property purchases.
On the flipside, once travel bans are lifted, the Queensland economy and property market should benefit from more local travel by Australians as it is likely that overseas travel will still be restricted.
Not all Brisbane property will be impacted equally.
Clearly there is not one Queensland property market.
Regional Queensland is likely to suffer more while the Brisbane real estate market is underpinned by multiple pillars, and therefore likely to suffer less than areas like the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast or regional Queensland.
But even Brisbane does not have ‘one’ property market.
Based on the predicted pace of the post-recession recovery, I would expect the pandemic to have a more limited and shorter-lived impact on house prices than either the early-1990s recession or the Global Financial Crisis.
Just to make things clear…I have confidence in the long term future of the Sunshine State capital.
Brisbane is one of the world’s great cities.
Liveability, affordability, scale and future economic prospects all suggest that Brisbane is a market where you can confidently buy.
While it’s true that once we come through the Coronavirus pandemic Brisbane is likely to be the one of the best performing property market over the next few years, there is not one Brisbane property market.
While some locations in Brisbane have strong growth potential, and the right properties in these locations will make great long term investments, certain submarkets should be avoided like the plague.
In the long term Brisbane’s economy is being underpinned by major projects like Queen’s Wharf, HS Wharf, TradeCoast, Cross River Rail, the second airport runway and the Adani Coal Mine, but jobs growth from these won’t really kick off for a few more years.
Our Metropole Brisbane team has noticed a continued enquiry with many more homebuyers and investors showing interest in property.
At the same time, we are getting more enquiries from interstate investors there we have for many, many years.
Adelaide Property Market
Adelaide remains one of the most stable capital city housing markets.
Dwelling values were down by 0.2% in June which was the first month on month fall since the market bottomed out from a mild downturn in August last year.
- Adelaide house values decreased -0.1% last month (+2.4% over the last year.)
- Adelaide unit values decreased -0.1% last month (+2.9% over the last year.)
Adelaide rents have continued to rise through the COVID period up one tenth of a per cent over the June quarter.
The detail in the data shows that unit rents have recorded a 0.2% decline over the quarter while house rents were up by 0.2%.
Across the broad valuation cohorts Adelaide’s more expensive properties have recorded a slightly higher growth reading than lower value properties.
The upper quartile values rose by 0.9% over the June quarter while lower quartile values were up a smaller 0.7%.
A similar trend can be seen across Adelaide’s sub-regions with the Western suburbs recording a 2.1% rise in values over the quarter, while at the other extreme values across the southern region of Adelaide were down 0.1% over the same period.
Perth Property Market
Perth’s long awaited recovery has been interrupted by COVID-19 with values falling over both May and June to be down 1.4% over the quarter.
Prior to COVID, Perth home values had avoided the fall for six months straight.
Although home values have dropped housing activity has shown a sharp rise over the past two months, with our estimate of sales more than doubling from the low base set in April.
Rents have continued to rise through the June quarter as well up almost 1% to be one of the few capital cities where rents are continuing to rise.
- Perth house values fell -0.6% last month (-2.6% over the last year.)
- Perth unit values fell -0.8% last month (-2.0% over the last year.)
Hobart Property Market
Hobart was the darling of speculative property investors and the best performing property market in 2017- 8, and while dwelling values reached a record high in February 2020, its boom is now over and values fell slightly in March and April.
However Hobart houses and units exhibited a slight rise in May.
- Hobart house values increased +0.4 last month (+6.4% over the last year.)
- Hobart unit values increased 0.6% last month (4.1% over the last year.)
It’s likely the Hobart market will continue to lose its momentum over the year as its local economy is very dependant on tourism which is a sector of the economy that will suffer more than most.
Darwin Property Market
The Darwin property market peaked in May 2014 and is still suffering from the effects of the end of our mining boom with a very soft employment market and lack of migration and infrastructure spending.
Darwin property values finally started to increase earlier this year, and values increased 2.1% over the last quarter.
However, values are currently 31.3% below their historic peak and it is unlikely we’ll see these types of house prices again in the next decade.
- Darwin house values increased 0.2% last month (0.3% over the last year.)
- Darwin unit values increased 0.7% last month (-5.8% over the last year.)
The small size of the Darwin market makes it more susceptible to local events and Darwin typically has a higher and more variable vacancy rate, a product of a large transient working population.
Darwin does not have significant growth drivers on the horizon and would be best avoided by investors.
Canberra Property Market
Canberra’s property market has been a “quiet achiever” with dwelling values having reached a new peak after growing 6.3% over the last year .
Considering a large percentage of Canberra population is employed by the government or industries supporting the public sector, Canberra’s property market is less likely to be affected by the upcoming recession than our other capital cities.
- Canberra house values increased 0.7% last month (+8.5% over the last year.)
- Hobart unit values increased 0.1% last month (+2.7% over the last year.)
Our rental markets
Unit rentals experienced the biggest price drop in more than 15 years, marking a historic rent price fall of 3.2% (equivalent to $15 per week) over the June quarter according to Domain.
House and unit rental prices fell across most major capitals, illustrating no city was immune from the impact of coronavirus, with Sydney and Hobart unit rentals hardest hit — both recorded the steepest quarterly fall on record.
More than a quarter of advertised rental properties across Melbourne have had their asking prices slashed in recent months as landlords tried to lure new tenants in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
At the same time almost a third of rental properties in Sydney have been discounted since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian shores, as landlords battle it out to secure tenants.
At Metropole Property Management we found the situation worse at the height of the lockdown, but over the last six weeks, we have found more tenants out looking for new premises in both Melbourne and Sydney, and we manage to lease properties promptly and keep the vacancy rate for our landlords below industry averages and using innovative marketing and inspection techniques.
Other market indicators:
Vendor metrics have generally softened over the last few months with the number of days to sell a property increasing (a sign of excess supply), vendor discounting deepening (it’s harder for them to sell.)
The RBA dropped “official interest rates twice in March and banks have been lowering their rates to new borrowers in order to “buy” business.
And it is unlikely interest rates will rise for some years.
Read more (and watch the video): How will COVID-19 impact on your banking and loans?
And first homebuyers are back into the market, some taking advantage of government incentives while others experienced FOMO, wanting to get into the market before property values start increasing again.
Interestingly, investor activity start the year off slowly and has continued that way.
At Metropole we are finding property investors keen to get into the market, but they’re having difficulty getting finance with the bank and putting more hurdles in the way they never before.
It’s hard to make predictions. Especially about the future.
It’s even harder to predict the end point of a moving target.
Yet, as someone who’s meant to know a bit about our property markets, I’m regularly asked how all this is going to play out?
What’s going to happen to the property markets? Are house prices really going to crash like those doomsayers keep telling us?
Of course, I realise there are some commentators out there making predictions; but my answer is – I really don’t know!
I realise that’s not a satisfactory answer.
By the way…no one else really knows the answers either!
Yet at a time like this, most of us are looking for someone to tell them what’s going to happen next.
Of course I wish I had the answers. I really do.
All I can say is I don’t know.
I don’t know how this virus is going to play out, how long we’ll be in lockdown or what the economic fallout will be.
But there are a few things I do know and I suggest you read this blog to understand what’s ahead: Coronavirus crisis: I have no idea what will happen to property prices!
What I do know is that once we cross the proverbial bridge that the government is building for us, a property market will rebound again as they always have.
I also know that there’s a group of strategic investors and business owners who are positioning themselves for the future.
They recognise that there is currently a strategic window, the time between now and that survival to get set to take advantage of the opportunities that always abound after severe downturns.
As property investors they are working with their consultants to set up a strategic property plan, they getting their financial and ownership structures in place and doing the appropriate research.
They’re not trying to time the market, but they want to take advantage of the opportunities the market is currently and will in the future be offering.
These strategic investors know that people will eventually come out of lockdown and want to get on with their lives.
These strategically focused investors know it looks bad today, it might even look bad tomorrow, but they’re prepared to hang in there, they’re prepared to lay the foundations for their future success.
Despite the headlines, they know that the world will not going to end. They are prepared to bet on humanity.
They recognise that how they think and what they do between now and that survival line will determine their level of success when we move on to whatever our new normal will be.
NOW READ: Is now a good time to buy property?
In my opinion for those who have a secure job and their finances organised, this is a great time to buy a home or investment property at a price that you were unlikely to be able to get a couple of weeks ago when the property markets in big capital cities were booming and there were more buyers around than sellers.
It is likely that human nature will cause many would-be buyers to sit on the sidelines for a little while until things become more clear, which means that sellers will be more amenable to accepting offers rather than holding out for a top price.
Remember don’t make long-term decisions like buying a home or an investment property based on the last 30 minutes of news.
There is no doubt there will be opportunities in the market for those who are willing to go against the crowd and when they look back in a year’s time and definitely in 5 or 10 years’ time, they will remember the unprecedented events of 2020 as a great buying opportunity for property.
Now is the time to take action and set yourself for the opportunities that will present themselves as the market moves on
If you’re wondering what will happen to property in 2020–2021 you are not alone.
You can trust the team at Metropole to provide you with direction, guidance and results.
In challenging times like we are currently experiencing you need an advisor who takes a holistic approach to your wealth creation and that’s what you exactly what you get from the multi award winning team at Metropole.
Why not get the independent team of property strategists and buyers’ agents at Metropole to help level the playing field for you?
We help our clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through a range of services including:
- Strategic property advice. – Allow us to build a Strategic Property Plan for you and your family. Planning is bringing the future into the present so you can do something about it now! Click here to learn more
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Remember the multi award winning team of property investment strategists at Metropole have no properties to sell, so their advice is unbiased.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned property investor, we would love to help you formulate an investment strategy or do a review of your existing portfolio, and help you take your property investment to the next level.
Please click here to organise a time for a chat. Or call us on 1300 METROPOLE.
Source of graphs and data: CoreLogic.
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