2021 will be a good year to own residential property: Savills director of residential Chris Orr

This year has been a rollercoaster for residential values, from January onward the market began to rally off the back of some political and financial certainty in Q3/Q4 2019.

EXPERT INSIGHT

This year has been a rollercoaster for residential values, from January onward the market began to rally off the back of some political and financial certainty in Q3/Q4 2019.

This ended abruptly at the beginning of lockdowns as we saw prices decline seemingly 10-15% overnight.

Once restrictions were lifted, buyer sentiment and demand returned to near pre-lockdown levels while the number of properties on the market remained considerably less than comparable months in previous years.

Low stock levels meant that there was a shift in the supply/demand dynamic which is now weighted toward larger dwellings as buyers' value usable space more than ever.

With stronger demand per property some local markets saw houses sell for record highs towards the end of 2020, surpassing previous peaks set in 2017. The apartment market has not been as lucky due to other external factors that appear to have stagnated prices however for the most part, this segment of the market has remained stable since restrictions were eased.  

Over the year we also saw a sharp decline in rents which has meant less investors were actively looking at residential property due to lower yields. What we are now seeing is a steady return of investors to the market due to the poor performance of cash so while yields may have declined, the net position of many investors remains relative due to lower borrowing costs.  

Next year the following changes are proposed to take place which will have significant impact on the local residential property market:

Changes to the National Consumer Credit Protection Act - 1 March 2021
While it won't quite be like the old days when you would walk into a bank and walk out with a loan approval, one of the legislative frameworks that banks work within and are held to account will be eased. This is proposed to shift the balance of responsible lending from lender back to consumer which will have interesting effects, one of which we will likely see is an increase in borrowing in affordable markets where access to credit has previously not been possible or too expensive. Is a bubble coming, maybe, all we know for sure is that there will be more money in the market which will likely lead to price growth. 

COVID-19 Vaccine - First half 2021
Many industries and local businesses seem to be almost back to normal (apart from distancing measures) so while we are able to live and operate locally without a vaccine, the news is welcomed and will give certainty to businesses and consumers who will be able to forward plan and travel internationally. To give you an understanding of one of the biggest impacts a vaccine will have, International tourism in Australia is a ~50 Billion dollar industry that is currently non-operational. 

Changes to stamp duty in NSW - Second half 2021
The formula of how the new duty will be accrued is yet to be determined and this will impact the feasibility of a more transactional property market, however the reform in principle has been welcomed by both potential buyers and sellers. As always, time will tell, however we expect to see this enable the business of real estate manage cashflow better (developers, investors etc.) which will create additional activity and subsequently increase prices with competition.

Overall, in 2021 it will be a good year to own residential property, I expect the detached dwelling market to continue to outperform others in inner suburbs while we will likely see a renaissance in off-the-plan sales as investors and first home buyers begin competing for the same stock, leaving a hole in the market and pushing up prices making currently held development sites more feasible.

Chris Orr is the director of residential at Savills Australia

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Savills Residential Property 2021 Property Forecast

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