Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rp Data - Rismark April Report

The near-double interest rate hike in November last year has bitten, with seasonally-adjusted Australian capital city dwelling values down 1.2% in the three months to end April, although in raw terms home values are mostly unchanged (-0.2%). Expensive suburbs have been the poorest performers in line with the share market.

According to Tim Lawless, RP Data’s research director, expensive suburbs have helped drag the overall market down. RP Data and Rismark divide their capital city index into three sub-indices: the bottom 20 per cent of suburbs ranked by price, the middle 60 per cent, and the top 20 per cent.

Over the year to end April, dwellings in the most expensive capital city suburbs recorded a -5.4 per cent loss (see second chart). In contrast, home values in the middle 60 per cent of suburbs were down by only -0.9 per cent. Dwellings located in the cheapest 20 per cent of suburbs were the best performers, hardly moving (-0.5 per cent).

RP Data’s Tim Lawless commented, “The solid performance of cheap suburbs runs against the grain of popular claims that default rates are rocketing up amongst first time buyers, which the RBA recently rejected.”

“The luxury end of the housing market is also showing its volatility. During the growth phase of the cycle the most expensive homes realised the highest capital gains. Yet as the market cools premium home values seem to be losing steam the fastest,” he said.

According to Mr Lawless, the weak conditions seen in the Perth and Brisbane markets combined with the comparatively high capital gains recorded in Melbourne and Sydney has driven a widening housing cost gap.

“Brisbane’s median house price is now 24 per cent lower than Sydney’s and 14 per cent lower than Melbourne’s. Pre-GFC the gap between Brisbane and Sydney dwelling prices was as narrow as 6.4 per cent. Perth dwelling prices are now 18 per cent lower than Sydney’s and 8 per cent lower than Melbourne’s. At its narrowest, the gap between Perth and Sydney prices was just 2.3 per cent. The improved buying proposition in these cities should help support buyer sentiment, which has been very weak since the financial crisis,” Mr Lawless said.

Christopher Joye added, “Notwithstanding that low vacancy rates will help rental growth outperform core inflation, the capital growth environment is as we forecast last year: missing in action. If the RBA raises rates another 1-2 times this year, we project that house prices will remain soft and likely register some modest losses. While home values in Australia have not risen for a year, wages and disposable household incomes are growing rapidly. This is improving the valuation dynamics every day. When the RBA eventually cuts interest rates, the housing market will benefit from a tremendous affordability dividend.”

See RP Data Release

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