Growth in Hobart unit market less consistent: Residex

Growth in Hobart unit market less consistent: Residex
Growth in Hobart unit market less consistent: Residex

Residex says it is highly important to contextualise Hobart’s unit market growth figures because growth has been less consistent over the last five years compared to other cities.

Graph 1 shows a time series of quarterly sales and capital growth for the Hobart unit market.

Graph 1: Quarterly Capital Growth and Sales Numbers – Units, Greater Hobart

Click to enlarge

Growth in Hobart unit market less consistent: Residex

Source: Residex

The graph shows that strong growth in the May quarter came off the back of negative growth in the previous two quarters. It also follows losses in Hobart between 2011 and 2013. If you invested in the median Hobart unit in May 2010, when the median value was $282,000, you would have made nominal gains of just $5,000 in capital growth over the last five years.

Much of the stunted growth in Hobart is a result of the end of the mining boom and economic growth constraints such as geographic separation from the rest of Australia. However, as the Australian economy moves away from mining and into tourism, and those close to retirement develop an increased interest for investment properties, Hobart units suddenly present an affordable opportunity with high rental yields – which could account for the rebound of growth in the May quarter.

It is true that tourism has grown in Tasmania. Visitation to Tasmania and visitor expenditure in Tasmania grew approximately 7% in the year to March 2016. During this time, most visitors were people within Australia (85%), particularly Victoria (37%). A persistently low AUD may be encouraging domestic tourism for Australians as opposed to overseas visitations. Simultaneously, the low AUD could encourage further increases in international visitation, but this too is dependent on the stability of the global economy. Confidence in the global economy continues to be threatened by heavy migration flows and, in the short term, the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union.

Another important factor to consider is the wider Australian housing market, which is in the downswing phase of the growth cycle. As growth in housing slows, the wealth effect of housing diminishes, which may also reduce interstate visitation to Tasmania.

Another important consideration for those looking to Tasmania is rent. The rental yield on the median Hobart unit is currently 5.53%. Graph 2 shows the dollar value rent estimates of the median Hobart unit since 2010.

Graph 2: Historical median rent – Hobart Units

Click to enlarge

Growth in Hobart unit market less consistent: Residex

Source: Residex

Graph 2 shows rent has trended upwards. In the year to May 2016, rent increased by $20 per week. However, if wage growth does not prosper with rents, rental return may be held back by affordability problems.

A report by SGS Economics and Planning has found that some households in greater Hobart are spending an estimated 50-80% of their disposable income on rent. Anecdotal reports also argue that homelessness is steadily increasing in the region. However, the report uses 2011 Census income data, discounting wage growth over the last five years. As the value of Hobart units increase, rental yields are most likely to fall. The extent of the fall will depend on the rate of wage growth in the region. This is an important consideration depending on your investment strategy.

Finally, it is important to consider some of the more endogenous structural growth constraints in Tasmania. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Tasmania was 6.5 percent in May, and the state also has the lowest rate of year 12 completion in 20-24 year olds (58 percent) due to irregular school structures.

Should Labour win government in the upcoming July 2 election, the opposition leader has pledged $150 million to the University of Tasmania and small business incentives to encourage a culture of further education, which could create long term job and growth prospects.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Hobart Property market

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