Not a single growth market in the Sydney metropolitan area: Terry Ryder

Not a single growth market in the Sydney metropolitan area: Terry Ryder
Not a single growth market in the Sydney metropolitan area: Terry Ryder

There’s been a lot of discussion about a resurgence in Sydney prices, but I’m not believing it.

The talk is based primarily on one month’s figures from one source, which suggested a significant rise in Sydney house prices in May.

People are so willing to blindly accept the figures pumped out by research companies. One international ratings agency rushed out a new assessment of the Australian residential market, complete with dire warnings, based on that one figure – apparently oblivious to the frequent statistical aberrations in price data for short time periods. 

Those figures for May presented a large number of very strange results. For example, are we seriously expected to believe that Hobart apartment values rose 8.4% in a single month? Or that Darwin apartment values declined 10 percent in May? Or that, in sharp contrast, Darwin house prices surged 3.5 percent in May? Or that unit prices dropped 6% in a month in both Canberra and Perth? Or that house values in Sydney suddenly turned around and jumped 3.6 percent in May?

The absurd nature on some of these numbers shows how rubbery real estate figures can be, especially when you’re dealing with month-to-month changes, which are notoriously erratic and essentially meaningless.

The Sydney figure was particularly strange because there has been a major drop-off in sales activity this year. Sales volumes have been trending steadily downwards since the end of 2014 in fact, but it’s been particularly pronounced in 2016 – and exacerbated recently by the calling of a federal election, which always causes consumers to stop dead with their decision-making and action-taking.

The thing is: all other price data, including the March Quarter figures from the ABS, has been recording a contraction of Sydney price growth, which is exactly what I would expect. It’s extremely rare in housing markets for prices to keep rising when there’s a significant decline in sales activity.

Hotspotting research for The Price Predictor Index finds not a single growth market in the Sydney metropolitan area, which contains over 700 suburbs. Many suburbs are in steady decline.

An example is Auburn (median house price $835,000, down 1.7 percent in the three months to April, according to Australian Property Monitors), where there were over 200 sales per quarter in late 2013, dropping to 170 in late 2014, 100 late in 2015 and now 75 per quarter.

Likewise, Bankstown ($840,000, down 2.7 percent percent in three months) was recording over 200 sales per quarter late in 2013, but numbers have fallen steadily to 95 per quarter late in 2015 and 80 per quarter in 2016.

Sales in Breakfast Point (median unit price $1.06 million, down 4.9 percent in three months) have fallen from 110 to 88 to 70 to 43 to 33 to 26 in consecutive quarters. 

In Cammeray (median house price $1.7 million, down 10.6 percent in three months), sales have dropped from 58 to 54 to 46 to 37 to 30 to 26 since late 2014. In Fairfield ($720,000, down 2 percent in three months) sales in the past four quarters have been 107, 77, 56 and 35. In Pymble ($2.05 million, down 3.3 percent in three months) sales levels have dropped from 112 to 99 to 71 to 64 to 39 in the past five quarters.

Unit sales in CBD fringe suburb of Haymarket (median unit price $895,000, down 1.8 percent in three months) have dropped from 77 to 57 to 39 to 24 to 9.

In Parramatta ($565,000, down 1 percent) unit sales have declined from 172 to 165 to 107 to 95 in the past four quarters, while in Potts Point ($710,000, down 4.3 percent), unit sales have dropped from 110 to 66 to 47 in consecutive quarters.

There are myriad other examples, all charting the same pattern of decline in sales volumes, with prices starting to follow.

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

Sydney Residential Market


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