Debate continues to rage over the state of Australia’s property markets, with experts and industry commentators asking questions like; are we experiencing a property bubble? Will affordability and the rising cost of housing fuelled by mounting interest rates cause a market meltdown? Where are prices heading into 2011?
But with general economic conditions still holding the balance of power when it comes to things like interest rates and employment – two fundamentals that will make a significant difference to housing values over the next year – it’s unlikely that these questions are going to be answered with an emphatic yes or no any time soon.
A recent report from Smart Company revealed that while the International Monetary Fund is cautioning that Australian house prices are overheated by as much as 10%, largely due to the commodities boom as a resulting influx of capital, research group Australian Property Monitors argues this figure means nothing as long as homebuyers can keep up with mortgage repayments.
APM economist Andrew Wilson, says rising employment will continue to buoy the property market even though they expect price growth to remain stagnant into 2011.
“It’s a good time to be a buyer right now, but this won’t last because capital markets are strong. The momentum in the market always turns at some point,” he says.
The IMF report claims the current mining boom and things like the First Home Buyers Grant have inflated prices by between 5 to 10%, adding that any correction will be “orderly” and will not cause any dire impact on our banking sector.
It says, “From a financial stability perspective, stress tests suggest that a correction in house prices is not expected to take a toll on banks because of the low level of high-risk mortgages.”
“The current historically high terms of trade are expected to be long lasting. Strong population growth and high real income growth in the wake of record-high commodity prices this year will continue to support house prices.”
Although Wilson concedes that property prices are beginning to flatline, with stock flooding the market and decreased buyer activity, he says this is a temporary period of correction that will turn around as more full time jobs are created and finance increases.
“We’re having a shift in property at the moment. There’s been a pause here, a correction, people are taking a wait-and-see approach and we have a lot of stock being offered,” says Wilson.
“There are various reasons for that. The lengthy election campaign, a drawn grand final in Melbourne, and perhaps people were thinking about whether now was the right time to buy or sell. So what we are seeing here is a sentiment driven market, not a market driven by fundamentals.”
“It’s all about momentum. We are going to see more full-time jobs, which means higher income levels, and that will move back into the property market, and that will impact prices as well.”