In a potentially worrying sign for the economy, house prices in every major city in Australia except one are now dropping in value at the worst rate since the global financial crisis ten years ago.
The two cities that appear to be facing the biggest effects in terms of a slump are Sydney and Melbourne. The latest figures from CoreLogic show that Australian house prices on average dropped another 0.9% this month so far, and the full-year drop should be at 5.6%.
A perfect storm of conditions appears to be causing this current trend. The squeeze in disposable household income is particularly key, as many Australians admitted to dipping into their savings to fund what they need. This means that going further up the housing ladder is becoming more of a stretch.
Additionally, the fallout from the Royal Commission banking inquiry saw many major mortgage lenders increase their rates out of cycle, so individuals have to consider additional price rises when looking at how long it will take to pay a housing loan back. While some of this is due to the market being corrective, there are worries that it is showing no signs of stopping.
One of the battle lines already drawn ahead of next year’s national elections centers around how to make housing as affordable as possible for many Australians. Struggling voters are likely to swing toward the politicians whom they trust most to sort the problem out.
Current Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said that he is happy for house prices to come down but believes that this cannot occur by pushing government policies too far and that it is better to let a decrease happen gradually. Too much of a quick, sharp spike could send the economy into a tailspin that it may struggle to withstand.
The biggest drops in retail estate value were in Sydney, followed by Melbourne and Perth. Sydney’s house price average dropped by 1.3% in November and is down 8% down as a whole compared to this time last year. This large drop is significant to any Australians expecting to use the sale of their home for financial liquidity. It will, however, make it a lot easier for any new buyer to get on the ladder.
Intriguingly, not all cities have struggled to see a house price rise, with Brisbane and Adelaide most prominently bucking the trend. Brisbane in particular has displayed a resilient market, rising a small 0.1% this month and 0.2% for the year. Adelaide, meanwhile, is up 1.5% over the year, although average real estate prices remained the same for the month of November.
Tim Lawless, Head of Research at CoreLogic, said that he believes that this current downtrend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. He added that present circumstances mean that the issue is likely to see a different and longer ending compared to the volatile crash of 2008.
Describing the global financial crisis as a time when “the market was hit by an economic shock, but it quickly recovered because of heavy stimulus from government,” which Morrison has already ruled out. Lawless said that this time around, the problem is “almost all being driven by a change in credit policies.”