Property prices fuel rise in household wealth

Climbing property prices continued to fuel an increase in total household wealth in the March quarter, with wealth per capita soaring to a record high of $574,807.

New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows in the first three months of 2022 total household wealth rose 1.2 per cent, or $173 billion, to hit $14.9 trillion.

ABS Head of Finance and Wealth, Katherine Keenan said residential property assets continued to drive the rise in household wealth, contributing 1.4 percentage points to growth. 

“While the pace of property price growth started to moderate, with falls in Sydney and Melbourne this quarter, other capital cities and regional areas rose, resulting in an overall rise in house prices of 1.9 per cent nationally,” she said.

Since the March quarter in 2020, household wealth has increased 35.3 per cent, with appreciating asset prices resulting in wealth per capita jumping $146,008.

Residential property accounted for most of the growth in household wealth since the start of the pandemic, rising 39.9 per cent, while superannuation balances climbed 22.5 per cent as share markets were supported by accommodative monetary policy.

Currency and deposits contributed 0.2 percentage points to growth in the March quarter, while superannuation balances and household loans both detracted 0.3 percentage points. 

Superannuation balances declined 1.3 per cent this quarter as heightened uncertainty in global share markets weighed on the value of overseas assets held through superannuation funds.

Private, non-financial corporations drove a record demand for credit, making up $153.2 billion of the $218.8 billion total.

Households borrowed $41.9 billion, while government borrowed $17.5 billion. 

Demand for credit from private non-financial corporations was driven by equity raising and dominated by a large corporate restructure, which resulted in investor funds repatriated to the Australian stock market.

“Despite corporate restructuring activity, business equity expanded as foreign owned resource companies reinvested their retained profits earned on exports. Business borrowing was the strongest seen in the last two years,” Ms Keenan said. 

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