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How property aids Australia’s pandemic recovery

Regional property prices grew at a higher rate than Australia’s combined capital cities in 2021, helping underpin the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic, new analysis reveals.

The latest CoreLogic Economic & Property Review explores the major housing market trends to the end of November to provide a clear picture of the $9.4 trillion sector’s performance within the current economic landscape.

The review highlights that property values rose 22.2 per cent across the country, with a 25.2 per cent lift in regional Australia, outpacing a 21.3 per cent climb in combined capital city dwelling values.

In the 12 months to November 2021 about 614,635 homes sold across the country, which is the highest annual sales volume since December 2003.

At the end of November, the combined value of residential real estate was estimated to be $9.4 trillion, having only breached the $8 trillion level at the end of April this year.

The report shows other Australian asset values come in much lower, with superannuation valued at $3.4 trillion, the ASX at $2.8 trillion and commercial real estate at $1.1 trillion.

CoreLogic Head of Research, and report author, Eliza Owen, said strong market activity had been fuelled by a number of factors, including low interest rates, subdued stock levels, fiscal and institutional support, and increased household savings.

“Housing-related government support such as the First Home Loan Deposit and HomeBuilder schemes and non-housing fiscal stimulus, such as JobKeeper, helped many Australians service housing costs such as rents and mortgage repayments,” she said.

“Alongside home loan repayment deferrals, these household support measures stabilised the supply side of housing through 2020, by preventing distressed sales, and these repayment deferrals were reintroduced amid lockdowns in 2021.”

Source: CoreLogic

Australia’s household savings rate also increased to 23.6 per cent through to June 2020, against a then decade average of 6.9 per cent, on the back of strict pandemic lockdowns and inhibited short-term consumption spending. 

“It is probable that lower mortgage rates, and an observed economic and housing market recovery from the end of 2020, contributed to buoyant housing demand, particularly in those cities impacted by lockdowns in 2021,” Ms Owen said. 

“However, the nature of restrictions also affected housing dynamics, with sales volumes falling far more dramatically in areas where physical inspections of property were prohibited.” 

Australian rent values also grew strongly across the country, rising 9.4 per cent in the year to November.

It was the highest rate of annual growth since January 2008 and follows a 10-year average growth rate of 2 per cent.

The median weekly rent nationally was $450 per week.

“Even in rental markets that have shown greater weakness through the course of the pandemic, such as Melbourne units, a recovery trend has been recorded, with Melbourne unit rents now 1.7 per cent  higher in the 12 months to November,” Ms Owen said.

But Ms Owen said growth rates were now easing across the property market as more sellers put their homes up for sale.

“Momentum in the housing market is slowing quickly in Sydney and Melbourne, which is likely due to a relatively high number of listings now on the market and severe affordability constraints,” she said. 

“Across Melbourne, demand appears to be shifting to more affordable areas of the city, with lower value dwelling markets seeing a pick-up in quarterly growth rates. 

“Similarly, value gains are accelerating across regional NSW, while affordability weighs on dwelling demand across Sydney.”

New South Wales 

The NSW property market has been in upswing since October 2020, with state-wide dwelling values increasing 26.5 per cent in the 12 months to November 2021. 

This is the second-highest uplift of the states and territories (behind Tasmania, where dwelling values increased 28.6 per cent). 

The highest annual growth rates have occurred in premium lifestyle markets including the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven (36.6 per cent), Sydney’s Northern Beaches (36.4 per cent), the Central Coast (34.1 per cent) and Sydney’s Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury region (33.2 per cent). 

Victoria 

Victoria has seen the greatest divide in dwelling market performance between its regional and metropolitan areas. 

Greater Melbourne dwelling values have increased 16.3 per cent in the 12 months to November (second-weakest result of the capital cities), while regional Victorian home values are 24 per cent higher over the year. 

Australia’s international migration restrictions and Melbourne’s extended lockdowns in both 2020 and 2021 were the two major headwinds to have impacted the city’s migration levels, economic output and housing demand across the city.

Queensland 

The Queensland housing market has seen highly diverse property performance outcomes. 

Lifestyle markets in the state’s southeast have shown the highest rate of growth in the past year, while Brisbane (and Adelaide) has a rolling quarterly growth rate that continues to trend higher. 

This can be attributed to several factors including historically low listings and a median house value of $757,194, which is 23.3 per cent less than Melbourne’s median house value and 44.3 per cent below Sydney’s median house value. 

Queensland also recorded Australia’s highest net interstate migration figure in the year to March 2021, with interstate migration increasing 28.2 per cent over the year. 

South Australia 

As of November, the quarterly growth in dwelling values across Adelaide was 6.5 per cent, the second highest of the capital city dwelling markets and its highest quarterly growth rate for the past 20 years. 

The Adelaide housing market has seen sustained, high levels of quarterly growth in part attributable to persistently low levels of housing supply and relative affordability. 

Adelaide’s median dwelling value of $558,179 makes it the third most affordable city behind Perth and Darwin. 

Western Australia 

Western Australia’s dwelling values have been increasing since November 2019, placing them 22.1 per cent higher than when they bottomed out in October 2019, yet still 3.4 per cent below the record high of June 2014. 

The recovery in WA dwelling values has been more robust across Perth, where values are 2.4 per cent below the June 2014 record, while dwelling values across regional WA remain 20.7 per cent below their peak of January 2008. 

The upward trend in property prices has followed several cash rate reductions, more positive trends in internal migration, and an uptick in employment, particularly across the mining sector. 

Tasmania 

Tasmanian dwellings continued to dominate growth performance across the states and territories through to November, with dwelling values rising almost 30 per cent in the past 12 months, taking the state’s five-year annualised growth rate to 11.8 per cent per annum. 

Hobart’s median dwelling value has gone from the lowest of all capital cities at $359,088 to the fourth highest of the capital cities at $676,595 in the past five years. 

Over the same period, median rent values have risen from $345 per week to $495 on the back of a robust economic and demographic position in the lead up to the pandemic.

Northern Territory

Low interest rates, first home buyer incentives, government assistance packages through COVID-19 and improving economic conditions have supported dwelling values across the NT, which increased 15.6 per cent in the 12 months to November. 

Strict border restrictions since the onset of COVID-19 partially stemmed the flow of people away from the Territory and despite Darwin dwelling values rising 25.9 per cent since bottoming out in March 2020, the latest home value index results show Darwin’s dwelling values remain 15.3 per cent below the peak in May 2014. 

Australian Capital Territory 

The ACT’s housing market has surged consistently throughout 2021 with median house value across the nation’s capital $245 short of reaching $1 million in November, having increased 27.2 per cent in the past 12 months.

The ACT overtook Melbourne’s median house value in October 2021 and is second only behind Sydney. 

Despite the sustained growth, Canberra’s housing affordability has held up relatively well due to higher than average wages and low unemployment rates. 

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