How seasonal are dwelling prices?- Michael Matusik


In short, very much so.

There is a lot of flak running around about dwelling prices at present.  It’s ‘budget impact’ this; ‘unemployment’ that.

Yes, dwelling price growth has slowed in recent months, but price growth is seasonal.

The important thing is to take the long-term view & don’t get spooked by the monthly & especially weekly reporting on price movements.

Publishers of property-related magazines or media property editors in general, will tell you that one of the hardest things they have to do is to find something fresh to write about each issue.

To help fill their publications, they write about the latest price machinations.  The data houses don’t help matters when they release daily/weekly dwelling price indices.

Take a look at these two charts.

The first shows annual price movements; the second, quarterly changes in dwelling price.

In most cases, the middle & end of the year appear to be strongest when it comes to price growth.  This makes some sense, given the end of the financial & calendar years & when you take into account when most new listings occur in Australia.

Many investors like to buy before the 30th June, whilst owner-residents often like to be in their new digs by Christmas.

Things do, however, get stuffed up a bit when we have a late Easter, as was this case this year; & for certain once-off events – like an overly reported hard budget or a pending federal election (2013).

So the statistics suggest to me that price growth is strongest in the June & December quarters (usually) & weaker during the March & September Quarters.  The figures also show that sales volumes also follow suite, though not as dramatically so.

In contrast, new property listings seem to be higher during the March & September quarters each year.[sam id=43 codes=’true’]

Again, this makes sense as decisions about moving are often made during the Christmas break – so listings increase soon thereafter & as most real estate agents will tell you, spring is a great time to list a property for sale – and yes, many look to list at time of the year – as spring is often a good time (especially in our southern markets) to display property for sale.

It gives buyers enough time to settle & move in before Christmas.  And so the cycle continues.

It is this increase in listings & subsequent sales that often leads to high price growth results, especially when demand exceeds supply.

Don’t get me wrong, the property cycle is set to slow down over the next 18 months or so, depending on when interest rates next rise.  Revisit what we said earlier this year here.

But for mine, much of the current commentary about house prices is just seasonal fluctuations – or as Christopher Joye described last week, “an air pocket” rather than a “descent”.

Regardless, it is always best to take a long-term view when it comes to property – sale volumes; supply lines; prices & rents all “sawtooth” within the wider property cycle.

Think of a circular saw.

An annual review of price growth is adequate.  You will drive yourself around the bend looking at more frequent fluctuations.



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Michael is director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights. He is independent, perceptive and to the point; has helped over 550 new residential developments come to fruition and writes his insightful Matusik Missive

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