Regional towns to get boost, as Hobart leads higher home prices: Savanth Sebastian

Regional towns to get boost, as Hobart leads higher home prices: Savanth Sebastian
Regional towns to get boost, as Hobart leads higher home prices: Savanth Sebastian

GUEST OBSERVER

The CoreLogic RP Data Home Value Index of capital city home prices rose by 0.5 percent in February after a 0.9 percent lift in January. Home prices were up by 7.6 per cent over the year to February.

Dwelling prices rose in six of the eight capital cities in February.

The Performance of Manufacturing index rose by 2 points to 53.5 in February – a near six year high. A reading above 50.0 indicates that the sector is expanding. Production, new orders and exports lifted in February

The economic data continues to surprise on a positive note. The manufacturing sector is now expanding at the fast pace in almost six years. And when it comes to home prices it is a case of modest strength – but more encouragingly price growth is more spread out and not just Sydney and Melbourne centric.

Dwelling prices rose in six of the eight capital cities. But the lift in home prices in Hobart, Adelaide and Brisbane was the icing on the cake. In fact home prices in Hobart have now lifted by 8.5 per cent in the past three months. It seems investors and home buyers are shifting away from the traditional growth markets of Sydney and

Melbourne and looking for more attractively-priced property in other cities.

It is still early days but the perfect outcome would be if the majority of regional areas recorded a lift in dwelling values. The “Rest of State” price index lifted by 0.6 per cent in February, although annual growth is still subdued at 2.2 per cent. This highlights the issues facing policymakers in attempting to manage a very diverse housing market. What we would expect to see is the lift in capital city house prices continues to filter out across the regional towns over the next 12-24 months.

The consolidation in home prices is unlikely to see home building dry up. There is a record pipeline of dwelling approvals that suggest a lot of building work will take place over the next two years - supportive of a lift in activity levels over the medium term.

The rebalancing effect across the economy continues to take place. Manufacturing activity has now expanded for eight consecutive months – marking the longest streak in ten years. More importantly the sub-indices like, production, new orders and exports, are showing a credible lift. No doubt the weaker Australian dollar will continue to support the sector. In addition low resource prices – particularly for oil - are keeping down input costs and also providing a boost to the sector.

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Regional towns to get boost, as Hobart leads higher home prices: Savanth Sebastian

The latest data should ensure that the Reserve Bank continues to remain on the interest rate sidelines. If a rate cut was to take place it would be as a result of a downturn in the global economy rather than domestic economic conditions.

What do the figures show?

Home prices

The CoreLogic RP Data Hedonic Australian Home Value index of capital city home prices rose by 0.5 percent in February after a 0.9 per cent lift in January. Home prices were up by 7.6 per cent over the year to February.

House prices rose by 0.6 percent in February while apartment prices fell by 0.1 percent. House prices were up 7.8 percent on a year ago and apartments were up by 6.2 percent.

The average Australian capital city house price (median price based on settled sales over quarter) was $572,000 and the average unit price was $480,000.

Dwelling prices rose in six of the eight capital cities in February: Hobart (up 2.9 percent), Adelaide (up 1.9 percent, Brisbane (up 0.8 percent), Sydney (up 0.5 percent), Darwin (up 0.4 percent) and Melbourne (up 0.3 percent). Prices fell most in Perth (down 1.1 percent), followed by Canberra (down 0.2 percent).

Home prices were higher than a year ago in six of the eight capital cities. Prices rose most in Melbourne (up 11.1 percent), followed by Sydney (up 9.5 percent), Hobart (up 6.2 percent), Brisbane (up 5.5 percent), Canberra (up 4.5 percent) and Adelaide (up 2.8 percent). Prices fell in Perth (down 3.1 percent), and Darwin (down 2.9 percent).

Total returns on capital city dwellings in the year to February rose by 11.5 per cent with houses up 11.6 percent on a year earlier and units up 10.9 per cent.

 Performance of Manufacturing

The Performance of Manufacturing index rose by 2 points to 53.5 in February – its highest level since July 2010.

AIG notes “February was the eighth consecutive month in which the Australian PMI has been above 50 points (net expansion). This is the longest continuous run of expansion since 2006.”

Across the sub-indices; production (60.1 points), new orders (52.4 points), stocks (52.5 points), deliveries (53.5 points) exports (53.7 points) and sales (53.0 points) were positive in February. Employment (47.4 points), remained in contraction.

What is the importance of the economic data?

The CoreLogic RP Data Hedonic Australian Home Value Index is based on Australia’s biggest property database. Unlike the ABS Index, which excludes terraces, semi-detached homes and apartments, the CoreLogic-RP Data Hedonic Index includes all properties. Home prices are an important driver of wealth and spending.

The Australian Industry Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers compile the  Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) each month. The Australian PMI is the Australian equivalent of the US ISM manufacturing gauge. The PMI is one of the timeliest economic indicators released in Australia. The PMI is useful not just in showing how the manufacturing sector is performing but in providing some sense about where it is heading. The key ‘forward looking’ components are orders and employment.

What are the implications for interest rates and investors?

Sydney and Melbourne drove the gains in home prices in 2015. But the two largest cities are likely to come back to the pack over 2016. Overall, we expect returns on home prices across Australia to lift by around 7 per cent in 2016. CommSec expects no change to rates over 2016.

Savanth Sebastian is an economist for CommSec

Tags: 
Hobart Residential Investment

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