Houses projected to bounce back mid-2021 with higher risks for units: RiskWise's Doron Peleg

Houses projected to bounce back mid-2021 with higher risks for units: RiskWise's Doron Peleg
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

The difference between buying a house and buying a unit rental property has never been more pronounced.

RiskWise market research clearly showed that while houses show better prospects, some sectors of the property market remained high risk, particular inner-city apartment areas which were oversupplied and experiencing falling rents as Australians, many now able to work remotely, were seeking lifestyle properties and often avoiding higher density locations.

Mr Peleg said there were many opportunities for buyers looking for houses with high land value as a proportion of the property value, and a strong component of scarcity, especially if they intended to hold on to the property for several years or longer.

“In recent weeks there has been a material improvement in buyer sentiment and key data with a prime example being the relatively high auction clearance rates for houses in Sydney, with preliminary results that have been consistently well above the 70 per cent mark during the past four weeks. Melbourne’s market, however, remains dormant, for now,” he said.

Pete Wargent of, a national marketplace now offering affordable buyer’s agency services to all homebuyers, said that there has been a notable shift in enquiries over the past year.

“Low-maintenance units have often been popular with investors and non-resident buyers, but these buyer numbers are well down from their cyclical peaks. Most homebuyers are looking at houses at the present time, and in part this is a shift away from density at a time when many are seeking space” Mr Wargent said.

Mr Peleg of RiskWise said, “it’s important to distinguish between the two capital cities and there is a marked difference. Sydney property is strongly forging ahead with auction clearance rates tracking at levels similar to those of 12 months ago."

“The same cannot be said for Melbourne, especially due to the second wave of the COVID-19 which had a major and immediate impact. Prices in Melbourne have declined by about 6 per cent since their peak in early April 2020, according to CoreLogic, and this is the largest fall recorded amongst all capital cities."

“Despite this, Melbourne’s houses have better long-term prospects than Sydney’s. Indeed, we expect 2021 to be a strong year for houses in Melbourne, with significant capital growth forecast to play out.”

Mr Wargent of said ultra-low interest rates would drive price increases once the pandemic is over when the long-held link between the cost of borrowing and housing prices would reassert itself.

In addition, Mr Wargent said that Melbourne is more affordable than Sydney in terms of house-to-income and mortgage serviceability ratios while ABS data also projects that in 2026 Victoria’s capital will have a larger population than that of New South Wales.

Because of the strong population growth, Melbourne had enjoyed very strong capital growth until February 2020, Mr Wargent said.

Mr Peleg of RiskWise said, “while the second wave of COVID-19 created major volatility in Melbourne, RiskWise asserts that following the end of the pandemic, the Melbourne market will have similar projections to Sydney thanks to chronic undersupply increasing land and house values (while for units the oversupply increases both equity and serviceability risk)”.

In Conclusion:

Mr Peleg said the current ultra-low interest rates had created a unique environment where buying a house in many areas was cheaper than paying rent on one.

So while things look gloomy at this point of time, certainly in Melbourne, the market will likely bottom in the first half of 2021 and then the traditional connection between low interest rates, dwelling price growth, and the continuous chronic undersupply of family-suitable properties, with good access to employment hubs in popular areas, will drive them up relatively quickly

Land scarcity has been and will continue to be a major driver in land appreciation and, consequently, the appreciation of house values.

However, investors should consider family-suitable properties as opposed to rental apartments which will continue to carry a high level of risk in relation to both price movements (equity risk) and serviceability (cash flow risk). This risk of negative equity has significantly increased across the country.

Poor economic growth and a soft employment market will see the attractiveness of Australia as a destination fall in the short term. Therefore, without a significant improvement in employment conditions in the next few years, the risk to the rental apartment sector is likely to remain high.

DORON PELEG is the RiskWise CEO 

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