How true are real estate price fall headlines? Hotspotting's Terry Ryder

How true are real estate price fall headlines? Hotspotting's Terry Ryder
How true are real estate price fall headlines? Hotspotting's Terry Ryder


Headline: House prices fell in May. Alternative headline: House prices rose in May. 

Which is right? Actually, both. Or, more correctly, it depends on whose figures you believe.

CoreLogic records a 0.4% reduction in house prices (overall, the average across the nation) during May, but Louis Christopher’s SQM Research reports a 1.1% rise in house prices over the same period.

And when the latest figures from Domain and the ABS become available, they’ll have different numbers as well.

We could spend hours discussing why different sources produce different (and sometimes conflicting) results on what’s happening with property prices. But suffice to say that they all have their own methodologies and parameters – and what they’re attempting, to distil tens of thousands of sales in myriad locations into a single growth figure, is a tad challenging.

But, ultimately, it’s doesn’t matter whether CoreLogic is right or SQM is right. Essentially, they’re saying the same thing: property prices are remarkably stubborn in the face of major negative forces. As they so often are.

House prices continue to defy the doomsday forecasters, many of them economists who refuse to let go of their flawed theories about how property prices SHOULD behave – and others among them opportunists who see potential to generate free publicity.

Here are some headlines:

  • “House prices to drop 20%: AMP Capital” – The Australian, 19 March.
  • “House prices could drop by up to 20%, says UBS” – Financial Review, 18 March
  • “Prices to plunge 30% as clearance rates fall off a cliff” – The Age, 8 April
  • “House prices will collapse, says UBS” – Financial Review, 2 April
  • “Can’t rule out 30% fall in house prices, says SQM” – Financial Review, 7 April
  • “House prices could dive 30%” – The Age, 27 April

For those who declare “but it’s early days”, it isn’t.

This pandemic shemozzle, in terms of its impact on Australian life, declared itself on 20 February when the share market had its first meltdown. We’ve already been through the worst of the health impacts and the toughest of the restrictions and now we’re emerging steadily from lockdown towards increasing levels of normality.

When the price data for March (showing growth in most markets) was published, many in mainstream media said: “Yeah, but wait to we get the April figures, then we’ll see the true impact of Covid-19.”

When the April figures came out (again showing minor growth in most markets), we got the same reaction: “Yeah, but May will see prices nosediving.”

Well, that didn’t happen either. The CoreLogic data showed that in May there was growth or no change in house prices in nine of the 15 market jurisdictions (eight capital cities and seven state regional markets), with an overall result of -0.4%, while SQM reported a national rise of 1.1% and a capital city rise of 0.5%, with increases in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.

So, now the standard line from failed forecasters seeking to justify their negative stance on property markets is this: “Yeah, prices are stable for now but in September when the stimulus runs out everything will fall off a cliff.”

This comes direct from the kindergarten of real estate forecasting. It assumes that nothing will change over the next 3-4 months and that governments and lenders will recklessly turn off the tap without any regard to consequences. 

It also assumes that it’s all about JobKeeper and mortgage holidays, and overlooks the importance of infrastructure spending, loans and grants to businesses, support measures for renters, ongoing government stimulus measures like the $25,000 grant to home builders and renovators, and a whole lot more.

Australia has done well in this crisis and continues to do so. And the future belongs to those who see opportunity rather than calamity.

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

Terry Ryder Price Decline

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