Rate cut gives real estate a shot in the arm: Terry Ryder

Rate cut gives real estate a shot in the arm: Terry Ryder
Rate cut gives real estate a shot in the arm: Terry Ryder

Confidence means a lot to real estate markets. And it’s been a long time since Australian real estate has had such a concerted shot in the arm as on Tuesday this week.

Against the predictions of virtually every economist in the land, proving yet again how little they understand, the RBA dropped its official interest rate to depths not seen before. Most of the major lenders have dropped their mortgage rates accordingly.

The same economists who incorrectly predicted the RBA board’s decision will also tell you that record low interest rates equals a property boom. Goodness knows where that comes from – certainly not from any historical precedent and certainly not from the experience of recent years where only Sydney has had a market worthy of being described as a boom (no, not even Melbourne’s performance warrants the boom tag). 

I note that RBA Governor Glenn Stevens doesn’t see the rate cut reigniting boom scenarios. "In reaching today's decision, the board took careful note of developments in the housing market, where indications are that the effects of supervisory measures are strengthening lending standards and that price pressures have tended to abate," he said in a statement. "At present, the potential risks of lower interest rates in this area are less than they were a year ago." 

So I don’t expect the rate cut, replicated by three of the four major banks, to generate anything dramatic in the market. But it will generally help the psyche of property consumers. And the next affordability index will likely show a further improvement.

On the same day, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered his first Budget, which reiterated strongly that negative gearing won't change, nor will investors be slugged more on capital gains tax.

“We will not remove or limit negative gearing,” Morrison said in his Budget speech. “Those earning less than $80,000 make up two-thirds of those who use negative gearing. They are teachers, nurses, police officers, office workers and tradesmen. We do not consider that taxing them more on their investments is a plan for jobs and growth.”

Amen to that. The tragic thing about those who justify their anti-gearing stance on the grounds that it’s all about housing affordability is that scrapping negative gearing won’t make housing cheaper. Even Bill Shorten says it won’t force down the value of homes, therefore affordability won’t improve. Shorten, like so many others, doesn’t understand the affordability issue and is targeting the wrong culprits.

Another event on Tuesday was publication of building approvals data which showed there’s still some life in building approvals, although the monthly bounce may be an aberration because the longer-term trend is down (from record high levels, it must be said).

This closely followed the release of price data for April, which shows that the home value index has risen in the past three months of the year in seven of the eight capital cities.

That includes a 3.9 percent rise in Sydney. That would tend to rubbish claims of a collapse in values and a bursting of the bubble. I say “tend” because this is one set of figures from one source and it’s not uncommon for another major source to publish figures that are largely contradictory.

Based on the CoreLogic numbers, however, Adelaide’s prices rose 4. percent in the past three months and Brisbane was up 2.8 percent. I’ve been predicting good growth in those two cities, but I’m not getting overly excited because of what I said in the previous paragraph.

But, according to these figures, even Perth and Darwin showed glimmers of price growth in the latest quarter.

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au. You can email him or follow him on Twitter.


Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

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

Property market

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