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What a year that was. 2017 was perhaps the bleary eyed come down from the last five years of heightened excitement and frenzied activity.
Measures introduced by APRA last year have had an instant effect on banks and investor lending. It has put the brakes on the lending system. Banks have increased the cost of interest only investor loans. This has had an effect on the number of investors entering the market. This in turn has cooled down prices.
Sydney slow down
The APRA measures have taken greatest effect in Sydney. We’ve seen clearance rates drop from the record highs of 85% down to around 55%, its lowest level for two years. And in September, traditionally, the strongest period of the year for Sydney, recorded on average 68% clearances. All this is despite a drop in the number of properties on sale. All this indicates how cautious and muted the Sydney market is.
However, those who speak of Sydney’s property market demise or talk about a “bubble bursting” are, in my opinion, taking a myopic view. From 2012 to 2017, Sydney was Australia’s best performing market. Let’s not forget that from 2004 to 2012 Sydney was the worst performing market. In the average returns from 2017 you’ll see quite a sensible growth across Sydney. When you average it out the returns are under 10% in all suburbs over those eighteen years. Sydney is now returning to what it normally does in the property cycle. It’s having a minor correction or plateau and will slowly grow again.
Brisbane is beginning to move. It won’t have as dramatic growth as Sydney or Melbourne. But it’s being helped along by increased interstate migration especially in south east Queensland. Brisbane is over supplied in the inner city market, particularly in apartments. This has led to a real plunge in prices for inner city flats, down by 6 per cent over the year. However Brisbane is slowly taking off. There’s some serious money rolling into the city: like a $3 billion casino project in Brisbane’s CBD. And there’s hefty investment into infrastructure projects; investment in rail and road. Rental prices are growing. You won’t see spikes or plunges in the Brisbane market. All indications are that it will be the steadiest market for some time.
Melbourne still buoyant
Melbourne has been on a strong upward trajectory and this year overtook Sydney for percentage increase. It has had a 10% value growth over 2017 according to Core Logic. Melbourne suffered a glut in apartments recently and is still recovering from that. Yet while housing prices continue to grow in Melbourne they’re not at their dizzying peaks. It is high levels of overseas migration that is keeping the housing market buoyant, which is leading to constant housing demand.
Hobart, Adelaide and Perth
Hobart has been a surprising achiever over the last year. Its growth of 13.6% capital gains is a record for any capital city. This is partly due to strong interstate migration and partly because of its scarcity of buildings. Another factor is the flourishing tourism market. This is helped by the MONA museum and its cultural attractions. However, with a small population it’s hard to gauge the city’s long-term prospects.
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Adelaide has remained steady. Both it and Darwin don’t have enough critical mass to yet see a surge in prices. Perth is slowly hauling its way back from the mining collapse and is still some way from being competitive.
Wollongong is the third most expensive city in Australia following Sydney and Melbourne. Land development is still tight in that region. The demand for property remains very high. It’s attractive to both investors and homebuyers due to its proximity to Sydney.
So where does all this leave us?
As I’ve said before, Australia is not one single property market but many. There are as many property markets as there are suburbs. As the above breakdown shows, while parts of Sydney are at a plateau, other areas are thriving. So some investors may be wary of entering the market next year. But the canny investor will use the reduced competition, low interest rates and affordable house prices to strategically snap up a bargain.