Only seven out of Australia's 25 largest non-capital city regions saw an increase in house values in the year to April, indicating a widespread downturn in the property market.
The South East region in South Australia remains the best-performing regional house market, with a value growth of 10.8% in the 12 months to April 2023.
Premium lifestyle markets, which benefited from regional migration during the pandemic, have been hit the hardest by softer market conditions and rate increases.
In the regional unit market, the Riverina region in NSW saw the largest annual increase in values at 19.8%, while Richmond-Tweed, NSW, and Geelong, Victoria, recorded the largest yearly decline in unit values.
Strong regional migration, especially to the Gold Coast, is helping boost demand in these regions, potentially reversing the outflow of residents back to capitals seen previously.
Australia’s property downturn continues to take its toll on premium regional markets that benefited most from the mass exodus away from capital cities during the height of the pandemic, with softer values, longer days on the market and bigger vendor discounts.
CoreLogic’s quarterly Regional Market Update, which examines Australia’s 25 largest non-capital city regions, shows the number of areas where house values increased in the year to April has been slashed to just seven.
The South East region in South Australia, which includes areas such as Kangaroo Island, the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Limestone Coast, remains the best-performing regional house market on an annual basis, with value growth of 10.8% in the 12 months to April 2023.
The New England and North West (NSW) and Bunbury (WA) regions were the next best performers, up 4.9% and 4.8% respectively.
In contrast, NSW lifestyle markets, including the Richmond-Tweed (- 24.2%), the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven (-16.0%) and Illawarra (-13.7%) regions recorded the largest annual declines in house values.
It was not surprising that some of the largest annual declines were recorded across several of the country’s most expensive regional lifestyle markets.
Over the past year, premium lifestyle markets have been hardest hit by softer market conditions and rate increases.
These markets were among the largest beneficiaries of regional migration through the COVID- induced upswing and, as a result, became significantly more sensitive to the rising cost of debt and the normalisation of regional migration trends.
House values in Richmond-Tweed, on the NSW far north coast, surged 51% during the pandemic before the region’s relatively higher price tag, the rising cost of debt and lingering impacts of the 2022 flood, saw values fall -24.2% over the year to April.
The region also recorded the biggest fall in annual sales activity (-39.9%) and the highest vendor discounting rate (-7.9%).
Houses in Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs sold fastest during the quarter, with a median time on the market of 21 days.
The Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven region, south of Sydney, recorded the longest days on the market, with houses taking a median of 79 days to sell.
Across Australia’s regional unit markets, the Riverina region in NSW, recorded the largest annual increase in values, up 19.8% over the 12 months to April 2023, followed by Cairns (QLD) and Toowoomba (QLD), up 15.2% and 13.0% respectively.
Units in Richmond-Tweed, NSW (-13.9%) and Geelong, Vic (-10.6%) recorded the largest yearly decline in values.
Mackay – Isaac – Whitsunday was the only region to see an increase in the volume of unit sales over the year to February, up 3.7%, while seven regions saw the volume of sales fall by -30% or more.
- Also read:Auction clearance results December 2nd – Generally Steady Results on Another Big Day of Auctions
- Also read:Heat comes out of the housing market as values across Melbourne dip and Sydney slows | Corelogic Home Value Index
- Also read:Home Price Growth Still Strong Over November | Latest Housing Market Stats
- Also read:The Rate Debate considering the RBA’s raft of failures | Property Insiders [Video]
- Also read:This week’s Australian Property Market Update – Latest Data, State by State November 28th, 2023
The three areas with the largest year-on-year decline in sales volumes were the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven, NSW (-51.0%), Wide Bay, QLD (-37.5%) and Illawarra, NSW (-37.3%).
Units across Cairns (QLD) continued to sell quicker than any other region, recording a median time on the market of 20 days over the three months to April 2023, down from 32 days over three months to January.
Hume (Vic) recorded the second lowest days on the market (27 days), followed closely by the Gold Coast, QLD and Newcastle & Lake Macquarie, NSW, at 28 days each.
Ballarat units were the slowest selling across the regions, with a median time on the market of 64 days, followed by Richmond-Tweed (NSW) at 60 days.
Vendors in Geelong (Vic) were offering the largest discounts in order to secure a sale (-5.5%), while discounts were lowest across the Latrobe Gippsland region (-2.0%).
Affordable rural markets continue to show some resilience, having recorded only mild declines through the recent downswing, with a few regions still recording values at peak.
Despite two interest rate rises over the first few months of the year, these markets offer relative affordability, have low listing levels, increased regional migration inflows and strong economic activity off the back of mining, agriculture and tourism.
This has all helped support mild value growth.
Values are influenced by more than just interest rates, such as stock levels, migration, local economic factors and an improvement in consumer sentiment, which are helping to stabilise values across some regional markets.
There have also been some positive improvements in the quarterly house figures within the desirable commuter markets, such as the Gold Coast in South East Queensland, and the Illawarra and Newcastle in NSW.
Multiple factors such as low stock levels, a perceived end to the rate tightening cycle and an improvement in consumer sentiment, are helping to keep a floor under values across some of these markets.
Similar to Sydney and Melbourne, these more expensive regional commuter markets typically lead the cycle.
Although mild, the positive growth seen over the three months to April may suggest we have moved through the trough in value declines and signals the start of a recovery phase across the regional markets.
It’s likely strong regional migration is also helping bolster demand in these regions.
The Gold Coast recorded some of the strongest internal migration rates across the country through 2022, while Illawarra and Newcastle saw some outflow of residents back to the capitals over that time.
Data from the first three months of this year is likely to show a reversal of this trend, with the strong return of overseas migrants to Sydney likely to 'spill over' into these regions.