The COVID Correction Begins….
But the Negative Nellys were wrong – our property markets are not crashing, they’re showing resilience.
The CoreLogic home value index, covering the eight major capital cities, declined 0.5% in May, the first monthly fall since June last year as the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic take its toll.
But Australia’s property market look like they’ll be in for a softer landing than projected by the property pessimists.
CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless said:
“Considering the weak economic conditions associated with the pandemic, a fall of less than half a per cent in housing values over the month shows the market has remained resilient to a material correction.
“With restrictive policies being progressively lifted or relaxed, the downwards trajectory of housing values could be milder than first expected.”
At the same time, there are some positive signs with consumer sentiment growing for the last 8 weeks in a row and an increase in turnover in property sales becoming evident.
Preliminary estimates last month pointed to a 45% collapse in the number of properties being sold through March-April as lock-down measures came into effect.
But this fall has been pared back to a 37% drop with May sales pointing to about a 6% lift in the month in line with the relaxation of restrictions from around mid-month (in Sydney and Melbourne these had included outright bans on auctions and open homes).
Despite the gain, sales are still a third below pre-COVID levels and at 30 year lows as a share of the dwelling stock.
While we are all keen to keep up-to-date with what’s happening to the latest property market statistics, it should be noted that on these low volumes of sales, volatility is more likely in these price measures and they should be treated with caution
However, to help keep you up-to-date, here is my updated weekly analysis of data and charts provided by Corelogic, and further down in this blog you’ll find a more detailed State by State update using Corelogic’s monthly charts.
Early Market Indicators
Let’s start with the number of indicators that could give us a clue to what’s ahead.
These will then be discussed in more detail later in this blog.
- Pre listing activity has picked up a little lately.
This is measures by the number of Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) reports generated by real estate agents.
These are usually used at listing presentations and the trend correlates well with the number of new properties coming onto the market for sale (new listings) two weeks later.
The chart shows that this agent based activity is slowly increasing following the lull in mid April caused in part by Easter, but mainly from the pandemic shutting down our markets.
2. New advertised properties for rent and sale
The following chart shows the change in the number of new residential listings being advertised for sale rent in the past seven days.
This is one of the variables in the supply and demand equation and more properties are slowly and tentatively coming on the market for sale.
3. Mortgage activity and Loan Purpose
The mortgage activity indicator shows the change of the number of valuations being ordered over the last seven days, while the loan purpose chart indicates how the finance will be used.
As you can see a large part of the mortgage activity over the last month was mortgage refinancing as opposed to financing the purchase of new properties.
What’s happening to property prices?
Considering all the negative market sentiment, our lockdowns, and the inability to inspect properties for sale, capital city property values have held up pretty well, however the turnover of properties sold has decrease significantly.
Australia capital city home prices fell by -0.5% in May, based on Core Logic data with five of the eight capital cities seeing falls including Melbourne (-0.9%) and Sydney (-0.4%)
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 unlikley.
However, I still property values falling a little further as unemployment will remain high, consumer confidence will continue to languish and immigration will fall.
However, the strong market momentum seen at the beginning of the year has now disappeared.
What’s ahead now that COVID-19 is crippling the markets?
Let’s start with the number of new residential listings being advertised for sale.
‘New’ listings means the count is of listing events that have not so far 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.
A fall in new listings suggests less stock available, and less seller or lessor activity.
Understanding this measure alongside other CoreLogic data such as number of sales, time on market and vendor discounting rates provides further insight on the balance between property market supply and demand.
And a positive sign is that vendors seem to be gaining a little confidence, and a few are starting to are bringing their homes onto the market for sale.
The following chart shows the total number of properties for sale around our capital cities. As you can see, overall, home sellers are still on strike.
The number of property transactions
While the real estate markets have not shut down, we have seen a very significant slow down in transaction numbers.
We are currently seeing around as many properties transactions in the month as were previously sold in around a week.
- Just 956 houses (last week 939) and 548 apartments or units (last week 535) were sold in Melbourne.
- In Sydney 866 houses (861 last week) and 497 apartments were sold (484 last week), so the market is holding steady.
- In Brisbane only 475 houses (397 last week) and 110 apartments were sold (110 last week), suggesting the Brisbane market is picking up a little.
NOW READ: Is now a good time to buy property?
Vendor metrics had generally improved in the first quarter of the year with the number of days to sell a property decreasing (a sign of the tight supply situation), vendor discounting decreasing (it’s easier for them to sell)
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 show start to show that it takes longer for a property to sell and the vendors will require to offer a higher discount to affect a sale, especially for secondary properties.
Auction clearance rates
Low volumes at weekend auctions remain the order of the day.
This was the fourth weekend for Sydney holding kerbside auctions and the third for Melbourne.
The preliminary auction clearance rates are reported below, however at the moment in this time of market flux the exact figures are meaningless, and more important is the market trends.
The good news is there is still strong demand for well located properties at a time of low supply and many of the deals are still being done before auction time, and the auction clearance rates (for what they’re worth based on the small volumes) are the highest results we’ve seen since early March right before restrictions to on-site auctions and inspections were announced.
However, given very low market activity levels, it’s also difficult to take too much away from measured auction clearance rates.
Of course the above auction clearance rates were on a relatively very small number of auctions:-
Here is a regional breakdown of auction results:-
State by State Monthly data:
Prior to COVID-19 the Sydney property market was on the move having recorded its quickest turnaround in decades.
Since bottoming out after the election in May, Sydney dwelling values have recovered and are up 14.3% over the past year.
- Sydney house values increased by 0.3% last month (+15.8% over the last year)
- Sydney unit values increased 0.6% last month (+11.0% over the last year.)
The recovery Sydney was experiencing was most concentrated across the premium end of the housing market where values were previously falling more rapidly.
At the other end of the market, investors and home buyers had already abandoned the off the plan apartment sector for many reasons including concerns about construction standards.
And many of those who purchased off the plan a few years ago are now going to have trouble settling with valuations coming in on completion at well below contract price at a time when banks are more reluctant to lend on these properties.
Policies restricting open homes and on-site auctions have recently been lifted, which could see activity across the local market pick up, however, some downside risk remains due to Sydney’s exposure to overseas migration as a source of housing demand as well as the likelihood that consumer confidence will remain at low levels.
Rental markets are likely to see weaker conditions due to the reduction in migration rates and less student demand, as well as a short term rental stock transitioning into the permanent rental pool.
Sydney rents were down 0.7% over the month, dragging the gross rental yield to a new record low of 2.9%.
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 experienced the first month on month fall in home values since May last year.
- Melbourne house values dropped -0.3% last month (+12.4% over the last year.)
- Melbourne unit values increased 0.1% last month (+11.5% 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.
Melbourne has relatively high exposure to overseas migration which is likely to be one of the factors behind Melbourne’s weakness, along with the policies restricting on-site auctions and open homes.
Melbourne rental rates were also down over the month, falling by half a percent.
Rental markets are likely to experience weaker conditions relative to home values due to higher supply of rental properties, and less demand.
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 as 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 Brisbane home values continued to edge higher in April, up 0.3% over the month.
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.
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 increase 0.3% last month (+4.2% over the last year.)
- Brisbane unit values increased 0.5% last month (+2.3% over the last year.)
- Rental markets have started to see some weakness though, with rents down 0.4% in April, reflecting a rise in rental supply as well as a reduction in demand.
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 was one of the few capital city markets where the pace of capital gains in April was higher than six-month average.
The rise in values was broadly based, with each of Adelaide’s sub-regions recording a rise in home values over the month, led by Adelaide West where values were nine-tenths of a percent higher in April.
New listing numbers were down 38% compared with a year ago, reflecting a substantial drop in advertised supply levels, and rental markets softened, with rents slipping 0.1% in April.
- Adelaide house values increased 0.4% last month (+1.3% over the last year.)
- Adelaide unit values increased 0.7% last month (+2.5% over the last year.)
However, Adelaide will not be immune to the coronavirus led recession, particularly as it does not have multiple pillars supporting it economy.
Perth Property Market
It looked like the Perth market was finally starting to pick up.
Yet despite renewed growth, the median house value across Perth remains the lowest of any capital city.
Perth home values have avoided a fall for six consecutive months which is the longest run of growth since the market peaked in mid-2014.
The April figures showed a 0.2% lift in values over the month taking the market 1.1% higher over the year to date.
- Perth house values increased 0.3% last month (-2.5% over the last year.)
- Perth unit values fell -0.2% last month (-3.0% over the last year.)
Local rents also edged higher, rising 0.1% in April with Perth the only capital city to avoid a drop in rents over the month.
Despite the positive monthly reading for values and rents, it’s clear that activity has reduced.
New listing numbers are down about 46% compared with a year ago and our estimate of buyer numbers has more than halved over the month, suggesting buyers and sellers have retreated to the sidelines.
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 have fallen slightly.
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.
- Hobart house values fell -0.2% last month (+6.1% over the last year.)
- Hobart unit values increased 0.5% last month (+1.0% over the last year.)
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.
Finally Darwin property values started to increase over the last few months, but the upward trend is unlikely to continue now.
Currently values are 30% 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 1.1% last month (-3.8% over the last year.)
- Darwin unit values increased 3.1% last month (-0.3% 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 4.7% 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 0.1% last month (+5.3% over the last year.)
- Hobart unit values fell -0.4% last month (+0.9% over the last year.)
Our rental markets
Following a number of years of sluggish rental growth, rents had been rising earlier this year and the team at Metropole Property Management were getting a record number of rental enquires.
While leasing enquiries are still there and inspections of properties can still occur, vacancy rates have risen, particularly in and around the Sydney and Melbourne CBD’s and this is causing rent to fall.
Other market indicators:
Vendor metrics had generally improved over the first quarter of the year with the number of days to sell a property decreasing (a sign of the tight supply situation), vendor discounting decreasing (it’s easier for them to sell) and auction clearance rates started the year on a very strong note.
But now, it is likely that these metrics will show start to show that it takes longer for a property to sell and the vendors will require to offer a higher discount to affect a sale, especially for secondary properties.
The RBA dropped “official interest rates twice in March and banks have been lowering their rates to new borrowers in order to “buy” business.
Read more (and watch the video): How will COVID-19 impact on your banking and loans?
And first homebuyers were back into the market early this year, some taking advantage of government incentives while others experienced FOMO, watching property values increase faster than they could say for the deposit.
Interestingly, investor activity start the year off slowly and has continued that way.
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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- Wealth Advisory – We can provide you with strategic tailored financial planning and wealth advice. Click here to learn more about we can help you.
- Property Management – Our stress free property management services help you maximise your property returns. Click here to find out why our clients enjoy a vacancy rate considerably below the market average, our tenants stay an average of 3 years and our properties lease 10 days faster than the market average.
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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