A 4.5 per cent increase in Australian home values in the first half of 2009 heralds good news for the property market with improvements being recorded across all market price segments according to the combined RP Data-Rismark National Home Value Indices out today.
RP Data national research director Tim Lawless confirmed that prices improved across all price segments over the last six months, however growth is moderating as we move into the second half of 2009.
Rismark International managing director Christopher Joye said “Outside of cash, Australian residential property has proven to be a safer store of wealth for households than shares or commercial property.”
Mr Lawless said “The recovering residential environment comes as consumer and business confidence records large improvements. Housing finance approvals are trending upwards for both owner occupiers and investors, and auction clearances are averaging more than 70 percent across the nation.”
“Growth across all markets is being recorded over a broad base, not just in first home buyers markets as commentators have suggested,” he said.
Based on the first half year results, home values have risen in the top 20 per cent of most expensive suburbs, the middle 60 per cent of suburbs, and the cheapest 20 per cent of suburbs ranked by price.
The top 20 per cent of most expensive suburbs across Australia have risen in value by a stunning 5.7 per cent since their lowest point in January 2009 which follows a hefty 10.3 per cent fall in values between February 2008 and December 2008.
Mr Lawless said the fact that prices are improving across all segments of the market demonstrates that improved affordability and attractive buying conditions are the key market drivers rather than the boost to the First Home Buyers Grant.
Capital gains likely to be less in the second half of 2009. After an initial burst of activity following the introduction of the First Home Buyers Boost and the 40 per cent fall in mortgage rates, there is evidence that the rate of house price growth is slowing back to more modest levels. With growth rates moderating, it is likely capital gains in the second half of 2009 will not be as significant as the first half.
Christopher Joye said, “While Australia’s housing recovery has been emphatically confirmed, it would be premature to assume that this is going to lead to higher growth rates. The June month results were a modest +0.4 per cent and the housing industry will face challenges in the second half of the year as the First Home Buyers Boost is withdrawn and fixed mortgage rates trend up.”
“In modest June growth followed on from a 0.8 per cent rise in May, and a 0.9 per cent increase in April. Given this slow rate of growth, there is absolutely no evidence of any house price bubble brewing.” he said.
Rental yields flat as house values rise. Given the capital gains recorded across most cities, rental yields have softened slightly with the gross annualised rental yield for units being 5.3 per cent while house rental yields are slightly lower at 4.4 per cent.
RBA highlights the disconnect between supply and demand. RP Data and Rismark have been vocal in raising the need to address the housing supply deficiency in Australia for some time. In a recent speech RBA Governor Glenn Stevens highlighted this issue as one of the more important that Federal and State Government’s need to address.
Tim Lawless commented that the disconnect between supply and demand has been long running, with developers simply lacking the financial ability to produce desperately needed housing stock.
“Compounding this issue are high government charges and policies that restrict developers from producing affordable housing stock as well as the lack of quality transport infrastructure and amenity linking the outskirts of Australia’s cities with the key working areas.”
“Until these issues are seriously addressed the Australian housing market will continue to be undersupplied,” he said.
The RBA Governor Glenn Stevens expressed hopes that housing supply will respond to demand without the need for a major run-up in prices.
Mr Joye said, “We have been relentless in drawing attention to Australia’s acute housing shortages, which have, ironically, been a key factor underpinning the market’s resilience.”
“Yet the biggest constraint on new supply coming online is access to finance—developers have had grave difficulties getting adequate credit from lenders. The banks have been reluctant to lend because of concerns about house price falls since the crisis began. If policymakers want to stimulate new supply, the last thing they should be doing is spooking lenders about a recovery that has only just started,” he said.
Brisbane’s housing market has been relatively subdued in comparison with Sydney and Melbourne. Home values are up just 1.4 percent over the first half of the year compared to the national increase of 4.5 percent. Despite the fact that South East Queensland remains the population growth epicentre of Australia and the city is home to some of the largest infrastructure projects in the nation, growth in home prices has been relatively subdued. Market conditions are improving, however, with houses and units taking just 29 days and 27 days respectively to sell. Brisbane’s unit values, at $337,003, are the most affordable of any mainland capital city providing a very strong value proposition to potential buyers