Australian dwelling prices lift: Matthew Hassan

Australian dwelling prices lift: Matthew Hassan
Matthew HassanDecember 7, 2020


The CoreLogic home value index, covering the eight major capital cities, posted a robust 0.7% gain in November following a 0.2% rise in October and five consecutive monthly declines. The November rise was across all major capital cities. Prices are still 2.1% below their pre-COVID peak and 3.5% below the peak in late 2017.

The detail shows a broad-based strengthening in the November month. Notably the reopening in Melbourne has finally seen prices turn in the one major market still recording declines a month ago – the 0.7%mth gain surprisingly firm given turnover was still low. Other markets consolidated on previous gains with Adelaide and Perth, the smaller capital cities and regional areas leading the way.

Turnover nationally largely consolidated on its Q3 'pop'. The detail continues to show stark differences, activity in Melbourne only just moving off the extreme lows seen during lockdown but activity across other capital city markets still holding well above pre-COVID levels (and well above new listings suggesting these markets are likely to be very tight in coming months).

Sydney recorded a 0.4% gain to be up 0.3% on a 3mth basis. Units remain a notable weak spot, with prices in this segment down 0.7% in the November month and 1.8% on a 3mth basis, declines accelerating slightly, particularly at the top end of the market. Houses at the lower end of the market have seen the most promising gains.

Melbourne's 0.7% gain was across all segments and building types although prices have generally been firmer for lower priced parts of the market. Despite an apparent large overhang of stock in the inner city, unit prices also posted a solid rise in the month – perhaps a caution that some of the gain may be running off expectations rather than conditions on the ground.

Other markets remain markedly firmer. Prices rose 0.6% in Brisbane, 1.3% in Adelaide, and 1.1% in Perth. The smaller capital city markets also recorded strong gains – Hobart up 1.4% and both Canberra and Darwin up 1.9%. All of these cities except Perth now have prices above their pre-COVID peaks.

The housing market is now moving clear of COVID disruptions with recoveries at different stages across different jurisdictions but gaining momentum everywhere. While there will still be some weak areas, particularly in the Sydney and Melbourne unit markets, the resurgence in activity, the associated lift in market sentiment and more promising outlook for a vaccine remedy to emerge next year suggests broader momentum will remain well supported in 2021. We have recently marked up our price forecasts with a 4% gain now expected in 2021 and a 10% rise in 2022, essentially bringing forward our forecast for a 15% surge that was previously expected to begin in mid-2021.

MATTHEW HASSAN is a Senior economist at Westpac

Editor's Picks