Correction continues in Australian dwelling prices: Matthew Hassan

Correction continues in Australian dwelling prices: Matthew Hassan
Correction continues in Australian dwelling prices: Matthew Hassan


Australia's housing market continues to correct. The CoreLogic home value index, covering the eight major capital cities, dipped 0.3% in June marking the ninth successive monthly decline. Prices nationally are down 1.6%yr and 2.2% from the peak in Sep last year.

The correction remains both relatively shallow and narrowly-based, concentrated in the previously strong Sydney and Melbourne markets. These two markets have now seen no net gain in prices since late 2016 and mid-2017 respectively. The Perth market is also seeing a price correction although this has been ongoing for the best part of five years.

For the June month, unit prices showed a slightly milder fall than houses (–0.2% vs –0.3%) although annual growth for units remains positive and is significantly outperforming price growth for houses (+0.4%yr vs –2.2%yr for houses).

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Correction continues in Australian dwelling prices: Matthew Hassan

Perth recorded the biggest price decline in the June month, down –0.5%mth, –2.1%yr with the city's unit market showing a renewed price contraction. Perth unit prices are back at their 2006 levels and have not kept pace with inflation since mid-2003.

Amongst the major eastern capitals, Melbourne was again a touch weaker, prices falling –0.4%mth vs –0.3%mth in Sydney, although prices are still up a touch (+1%mth) on a year ago compared to a 4.5% decline in Sydney. Brisbane and Adelaide continue to see a steadier performance with prices ticking up slightly in the month and up 1.1%yr. The detail suggests the Brisbane unit market is on a firmer footing.

Price performances continue to vary widely across the smaller capitals, Hobart's boom possibly cooling a touch but still showing double digit annual growth (+12.7%yr), Canberra subdued (+2.3%yr) and Darwin showing few signs of pulling out of its steep correction (–7.7%yr). Performances in regional areas have also varied but have been slightly better overall (Aus ex capital city prices flat in the month but up +2.2%yr).

All tiers recorded price slippage in the June month although declines remains larger for the 'top 25%' of properties by value down –0.5%mth, –3.8%yr compared to the 'middle 50% down –0.2%mth, +0.8%yr and the 'bottom 25%' down –0.1%mth, +1.3%yr.

Auction clearance rates weakened notably through May-June, suggesting an additional drag from tightening loan criteria and longer approval processing times. Buyer sentiment has lifted off last year's lows but the change in credit conditions looks to have overshadowed any positives from the marginal improvement in affordability. Any stabilisation still looks to be a long way off.

Matthew Hassan is senior economist with Westpac.

Price Correction Matthew Hassan

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