Three years of empty rhetoric about property prices “soaring": Terry Ryder

Three years of empty rhetoric about property prices “soaring
Three years of empty rhetoric about property prices “soaring": Terry Ryder

Generalisations about property markets are a major source of misleading information for investors.

The worst examples usually emanate from economists who speak about “the Australian property market” as a single homogenous entity. 

A statement such as “Australian house prices rose 7 percent last year” implies there was 7 percent growth across the nation, when it reality there were a few locations with double-digit growth, some with minor movement, many where prices hardly moved at all and others where prices went backwards, in some cases a lot.

We’ve had three years of empty rhetoric about property prices “soaring” and bubbles emerging, all based on a long-overdue revival of the Sydney market and action in some parts of Melbourne.

Even speaking about what happened or will happen to prices in a single major city is too much generalization to be of any use to buyers and sellers.

The entity described as “the Sydney property market” is a place with over 700 suburbs, with markets ranging from $370,000 units in Liverpool to $900,000 houses in Rouse Hill to top-end locations like Mosman where the median house price is $3 million.

Distilling all of that and more into a statement such as “Sydney property prices rose 3.6 percent in May” is the hallmark of lazy, incompetent analysts whose primary interest is publicity rather than being useful to consumers.

A study of the latest Market Monitor from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland provides plenty of evidence that generalised single-figure numbers to describe a large city are both pointless and misleading.

The report finds that the median house price in the Brisbane City LGA rose 6.1 percent in the past year. That’s the figure that 99% of media would report, indicating that Brisbane has a solid market but one that isn’t booming the way Sydney did until recently.

But Market Monitor delves deeper and provides figures for individual suburbs, revealing there are plenty of places which did a lot better than the generalised figure and a few where median prices were in reverse.

Middle ring areas in the Brisbane Southside precinct did well in the past year, including Coorparoo (up 11 percent), HOLLAND PARK WEST (up 12 percent), Macgregor (up 17 percent), Sunnybank Hills (up 12 percent), Eight Mile Plains (up 10 percent), Mansfield (up 11 percent), Wishart (up 15 percent) and Robertson (up almost 20 percent).

Similar areas on Brisbane City’s Northside have also out-performed, including Banyo (up 17 percent), Grange (up 16 percent), Hendra (up 13 percent), WOOLOOWIN (up 16 percent), Sandgate (up 17%) and Mitchelton (up 11 percent).

In contrast, there is evidence of falling values in upmarket areas like Hamilton, Ascot, St Lucia, Teneriffe and Hawthorne, all suburbs with median house prices above $1 million. But the median price for New Farm (median house price $1.5 million) is up 15 percent.

The report also shows the impact of over-building of inner-city apartments, with the median unit price down 1.4 percent in the CBD, down 4.5 percent in Fortitude Valley and down 1.7 percent in West End. Median weekly rents have fallen in the past year in several of the inner-city unit markets, according to the REIQ data.

Heading south to the Logan City part of Greater Brisbane, the generalised figure indicates the median house price has risen only 4 percent in 12 months. But suburbs with annual growth above 8 percent include Browns Plains, Heritage Park, Loganlea, Waterford and Waterford West. Logan Central, Forestdale and Woodridge all had annual growth in the 13-15% range.

Logan City’s opposite number in Brisbane’s far north is the Moreton Bay Region, which has emerged recently as the No.1 rising market in the metropolitan area. Most suburbs in this LGA have median house prices in the $300,000s and $400,000s – and affordability is a major driver here. 

The generalised figure says house prices have risen 5% in 12 months, but many suburbs have done better, including Albany Creek, Banksia Beach, Bongaree, Burpengary East, Caboolture, Clontarf, Ferny Hills, Narangba, Toorbul, Warner and Woody Point - all of which recorded annual growth between 8 percent and 12 percent. Upmarket Newport on the Redcliffe Peninsula also grew 12 percent.

On the Gold Coast, house prices rose 5.8 percent on average, but there are 20 residential suburbs with growth between 10 percent and 20 percent.

By contrast, the apartment market is under-performing, with the median unit price in Surfers Paradise largely unchanged, while the medians for Broadbeach, Labrador and Mermaid Beach all dropped 5 percent in the past 12 months.

Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Mermaid Beach all have median unit prices considerably lower than five years ago, while Labrador and Southport are unchanged.

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

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of

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