There’s no topic more controversial than the Aussie property market. Are we in for a mighty downturn? Or has the market already bottomed? As we run a series of aritcles on the state of the property market, TheBull wants to know your opinion on the outlook for Aussie property. If you’d like to have your say, email us here.
Earlier this month, Investec Asset Management strategist Michael Power forecast a 20% plunge in Aussie property by the end of 2014 “House prices tipped to plunge by up to 20%.” The South African-based strategist told a business lunch in Sydney that Australian property has long been overvalued.
The article prompted discussion amongst readers of TheBull, such as Ricardo Hora, who argued that offshore commentators are not in touch with the reality of Australian property. “They’ve got no idea of what Australia is like,” Hora writes, and such commentary is “detrimental to our property market, since people will tend to ‘wait’ for the so-called plunge which will never come.”
Hora provides two reasons for why Power’s analysis is faulty. Firstly, he argues that there is a lack of Federal and State government investment into the property market to “build the required minimum number of properties to cater for the low end of the market.” Effectively, Hora is pointing to a lack of supply in the housing market, which prevents prices from falling drastically. And provided property investors can attain healthy yields on renting properties out, then they’ll remain in the market. “As long as investors are out there the market will keep its level,” he says.
Hora also points to immigration. “Australia receives an annual intake of migrants who are always willing to buy property here. You just need to walk about any Sydney suburb to see all the properties being bought like hot potatoes by Indian and Chinese migrants.”
Whether or not you own property seems to determine the outlook for property. Understandably, property owners tend to be more optimistic than those yet to buy into the property dream. Property owners want prices to keep rising, or at least stabilise, while potential buyers ideally want to get into property at a lower price.
Clearly, so far, Australia has not experienced the same precipitous drop in property prices that has affected the US and parts of Europe, such as Ireland and Spain. Although prices across Sydney and other markets such as Brisbane have retreated, property continues to experience some level of turnover suggesting that buyers are still willing to buy at current prices.
Broadly, Australian house prices are down about 6 per cent in the past two years. This is a blip in the ocean compared to Ireland, for example, which has seen house prices fall by 50 per cent, and Spain, where home prices have fallen 32.4% from their December 2007 peak.
Over the past few weeks, some real estate agents and auctioneers have called it the bottom of the market. After a few slack years, auction clearance results have improved and the number of listings has declined. Properties across the country are still getting snapped up for millions, which signals that within all this doom and gloom money is still heading into bricks and mortar.
Just this week the RP Rismark Home Values Index noted that Australia’s capital cities have posted their strongest monthly gains in over two years – with houses rising 1.4% in September, the largest monthly increase since March 2010. The price gains were strongest in Adelaide at 2.4 per cent, followed by Perth (1.6 per cent), Sydney (1.5 per cent), Melbourne (1.4 per cent) and Brisbane (1.1 per cent).
At the same time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns that Australia’s housing market could come under strife if commodity prices decline and China faces a hard landing. What’s more, BBQ property discussions – which some would argue are no less important than the IMF’s views – have made a turn for the negative for the first time in almost 20 years.
Scratchy data is a major problem in correctly judging the present state of the property market. A common trend these days is for vendors and buyers to keep auction and private sales results private – which means that correct data is getting scarcer to obtain.
For this reason, TheBull would like to hear from fellow property owners and buyers – for your views on what’s going to happen to the Aussie property market. Are we in for a mighty downturn? Or has the market already bottomed? If you’d like to have your say, email us here.