You have to work very hard to concoct a property bubble when we're nowhere near a boom

You have to work very hard to concoct a property bubble when we're nowhere near a boom
You have to work very hard to concoct a property bubble when we're nowhere near a boom

Every week there’s more evidence disproving the notion of a national property boom and the even more fanciful theory of a bubble fit to burst.

You really don’t need to go much beyond the price figures, which show wide variations in the results from different capital cities, with growth ranging from negative to low to moderate to strong to boom.

But given the steady flow of bloopers from economists whose five-second media grabs last longer than the research they do - and the plaintive cries from the industry about the “exodus of first-home buyers” because of the affordability crisis caused by the housing shortage they’ve spent years fabricating – here’s some more information.

The Home Buyers Index from the Commonwealth Bank and RP Data suggests that most markets around the country favour buyers. In other words, most markets are not booming.

According to this index, when you look at things from a statewide perspective the ACT is the only jurisdiction with a sellers’ market. Four states have a “balanced market”, two others have a “buyers’ market” and one (Tasmania) has an “extreme buyers’ market”.

So there are four different situations across the eight states and territories – and only one has a market strong enough to be classified as a “sellers’ market”.

When they examine the situation in each capital city, there are three cities deemed to have sellers’ markets, three with balanced markets and two with buyers’ markets. Eight cities with three different scenarios.

I could spend all sorts of time critiquing the methodology and wondering how on earth they managed to perceive Canberra as a strong market when all other indications suggest it’s struggling – and noting that it’s based on March quarter data and we’re now in the September quarter, so it’s dated even before they publish it.

But the bottom line is that the report has found a whole range of different scenarios happening nationwide and only a small number of locations have a market worthy to be called boom. In fact, the national top 10 list of the strongest markets includes only four locations rated as sellers’ markets. The other six on the top 10 list are merely balanced markets.

A graph in the HBI report shows that markets have overwhelmingly favoured buyers over the past four years. Only four out of the past 50 months have been classified as sellers’ markets. This would tend to harm the case of those arguing for a price bubble.

Also recently published was Australian Property Monitors’ Rental Report for the June quarter, which found that only one capital city recorded growth in house rentals. On an annual basis, three cities recorded significant decreases in rentals, one city had no change, three had growth between 1.5% and 2.6%, and the best in the land was a 5.6% annual rise in Melbourne.

It’s a similar situation with apartment rents.

I can’t see any evidence there of a booming market, nor anything to support the strident claims of a dwelling shortage from developers who seek to use the fictional shortfall as ammunition to coerce politicians into making their lives easier, faster and cheaper.

Turning to those persistent claims about our dwellings being over-priced, Cameron Kusher wrote recently on Property Observer that only Sydney among the capital cities has price levels (adjusted for inflation) higher than the previous peak.

In real terms, Sydney’s market is only 4.3% above the previous peak, which was 10 years ago. All other cities remain in deficit – most of them by more than 10%.

All cities have shown some kind of growth recently, according to these figures, but not enough to lift values to the levels of the previous peaks (the timing of which varies from city to city) and anywhere close to them

You have to work really hard to concoct a bubble out of this situation.

You can contact Terry via email or on Twitter.

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

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