The Reserve Bank (RBA) held their monthly board meeting earlier this week and at the meeting they chose to keep official interest rates on hold at 1.5%.
The key points of note from the statement following the meeting were:
- The economy is continuing its transition following the end of the mining investment boom.
- The unemployment rate has moved a little higher over recent months, but employment growth has been a little stronger. The various forward-looking indicators still point to continued growth in employment over the period ahead.
- Lenders have announced increases in mortgage rates, particularly those paid by investors and on interest-only loans.
- The depreciation of the exchange rate since 2013 has also assisted the economy in its transition following the mining investment boom. An appreciating exchange rate would complicate this adjustment.
- Inflation picked up to above 2 per cent in the March quarter in line with the Bank’s expectations. In underlying terms, inflation is running at around 1¾ per cent, a little higher than last year. A gradual further increase in underlying inflation is expected as the economy strengthens.
- Conditions in the housing market continue to vary considerably around the country. Prices have been rising briskly in some markets and declining in others. In the eastern capital cities, a considerable additional supply of apartments is scheduled to come on stream over the next couple of years. Rent increases are the slowest for two decades. The recently announced supervisory measures should help address the risks associated with high and rising levels of indebtedness.
Overall, we expect the RBA will be monitoring housing market conditions closely, looking for signs of slowing investment demand and cooler growth conditions, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.
CoreLogic reported that growth in dwelling values eased in April, however several consecutive months of slower housing market conditions will confirm whether the most recent round of APRA changes, aimed at slowing interest only lending (and subsequently investment activity) has taken the heat out of the Sydney and Melbourne markets.
Based on the RBA comments following the decision and the recent changes from APRA, official interest rates look set to remain on hold for the foreseeable future
Capital city auction clearance rates rebounded from 69.8% the previous week to 74.0% last week.
CoreLogic collected results for 91.5% of all auctions held.
Last week’s auction clearance rate was recorded across 2,350 auctions which was much higher than the 1,751 auctions the previous week.
Last week, Melbourne’s auction clearance rate was recorded at 78.1% across 1,226 auctions.
Clearance rates and auction volumes rose from 75.2% and 828 respectively over the previous week.
In Sydney, auction clearance rates were recorded at 74.3% from 811 auctions last week compared to 72.4% from 596 auctions over the previous week.
Although Sydney auction clearance rates increased over the week they remain lower than the Easter long weekend and have nudged lower through April compared with clearance rates recorded through late February and March.
Canberra and Tasmania were the only major markets tracked in which clearance rates fell last week.
Note that sales listings are based on a rolling 28 day count of unique properties that have been advertised for sale.
There were 40,982 newly advertised properties advertised for sale nationally over the 28 days to April 30 which was -6.6% lower than 12 months earlier.
Over the same period, there were 229,281 total properties advertised for sale nationally which was -5.1% lower than a year ago.
Across the combined capital cities, there were 25,089 newly advertised properties for sale across the combined capital cities and 104,636 total properties for sale.
The number of new properties advertised for sale were -7.3% lower than a year earlier and total properties are -2.4% lower. Sydney and Canberra were the only capital cities to currently have more newly advertised properties for sale than a year ago.
All other capital cities except for Melbourne and Hobart have at least 10% fewer newly advertised properties for sale than a year ago.
Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra were the only capital cities that had a greater number of total properties advertised for sale compared to a year ago.
Note the year on year comparison of listing numbers in April should be treated with some caution considering the seasonality of Easter, as well as school holidays and the ANZAC Day long weekend.