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Home prices stalled in April as rate hikes loom

Property prices stalled nationally last month with values seeing their smallest increase since May 2020 and the onset of the pandemic, according to new data.

The latest PropTrack Home Price Index shows national home values increased 0.13 per cent in April as home buyers prepare for the prospect of higher mortgage rates.

Sydney (-0.1 per cent) saw prices fall for the first time since early in the pandemic, while Hobart (-0.44 per cent) saw values drop for the first time since early 2018.

Darwin (0.53 per cent) and Perth (0.45 per cent) had the strongest performance over the month, although both have seen weak conditions throughout 2022.

Other markets enjoying a solid performance were regional Tasmania (0.57 per cent), regional New South Wales (0.55 per cent), regional Queensland (0.51 per cent), Adelaide (0.34 per cent), and Brisbane (0.22 per cent). 

Melbourne (0.05 per cent) and the ACT (0.04 per cent) both had flat growth.

A two-speed market has begun to emerge as regional areas continue to outperform the capital cities.

Regional areas saw 0.44 per cent growth in April and 23.01 per cent annually, compared to 0.02 per cent monthly and 13.63 per cent yearly growth for the capital city markets.

PropTrack Economist and report author Paul Ryan said growth has slowed compared to what was a record year in 2021.

“Home price growth has slowed considerably in 2022 and stalled across the capitals in April,” Mr Ryan said.

“While price growth has slowed dramatically in 2022, it is comparing to the exceptional period of growth experienced in 2021.

“April housing activity was disrupted by the Federal Election announcement and public holidays.”

Mr Ryan said the prospect of higher interest rates on the back of record-high inflation will likely see the market continue to slow.

“This slowing follows widespread expectations of higher interest rates in 2022,” he said.

“This will erode the affordability that record-low rates brought following the onset of the pandemic.” 

Looking forward, Mr Ryan said price growth would continue to soften.

“The outlook for price growth remains subdued, with the speed of official interest rate hikes and wages growth the key determinants of conditions,” he said.

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a freelance journalist specialising in finance and real estate.