ABS ranks Canberra back in fourth place after March quarter dwelling price drop

ABS ranks Canberra back in fourth place after March quarter dwelling price drop
ABS ranks Canberra back in fourth place after March quarter dwelling price drop

The chilly Canberra dwelling price conditions were officially confirmed with the capital city's home values recording the only drop across the nation during the first quarter of the year.

The latest data shows from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Residential Property Price Index (RPPI) shows Canberra prices were down by 0.1%, with the mean price in Victoria ($557,100) overtaking the ACT ($553,900) which was back in fourth place.

The lowest mean price in the March quarter was in Tasmania ($309,400) and the mean price of residential dwellings in NSW ($643,300) remaining the highest in the country followed by WA ($597,700).

The index, which includes houses and attached dwellings, had Sydney heading residential property price increases, up by 2.3% in the first quarter. Melbourne followed with 2.1% growth while Brisbane recorded an increase of 0.8%.

The director of RPPI at the ABS, Robin Ashburn, said while the quarterly growth in Sydney had slowed by around half from the December quarter, throughout the year house prices in Sydney had risen 16.6% and attached dwelling prices had risen 13.7% - both the largest annual rises of all cities.

"For the weighted average of the eight capital cities, the RPPI rose 1.7% in the March quarter 2014. The index rose 10.9% over the previous year, the largest annual increase since the June quarter 2010. 

"Canberra was the only city to record a fall in the RPPI (–0.1%).

"The rise in prices has contributed to a rise in the total value of residential dwellings to $5.1 trillion in the March quarter 2014. The average value of Australia's 9.3 million residential dwellings was $546,500," said Ashburn. 

The average price of a residential dwelling across Australia is $546,500, up 8.8% annually, with Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan saying the housing market was moderating after its very strong 2013 finish.

"Momentum has softened a little bit in early 2014 and we expect the market to slow over the course of this year," Matthew Hassan told AAP.

His comments came as home prices grew by 1.7% over the March quarter, with 10.9% growth over the past year, according to the ABS index.

Meanwhile the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) says the latest housing finance figures reflect a stabilising market.

The figures for March 2014 show, in trend terms, that the number of owner-occupied finance commitments decreased by 0.1%, following increases of 0.1% in both February and January and this is the first fall since May 2012.

If refinancing is excluded, in trend terms for March, the number of owner-occupied finance commitments fell by 0.2% – again the first drop since May 2012.

REIA President, Peter Bushby noted increases were recorded in Queensland, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory with ACT having the biggest rise, up 1.2%. South Australia’s fall of 0.5% was the country’s largest.

“In trend terms, the number of commitments for the construction of new dwellings climbed 1.7%,” Bushby continued. “However the purchase of new dwellings fell by 1.4% and the purchase of established dwellings decreased by 0.3%.”

The value of investment housing commitments again increased but by a more moderate rate of 0.4% in March, following three years of consecutive monthly increases.

“The proportion of first home buyers in the number of owner-occupied housing finance commitments increased marginally to 12.6% compared to 12.5% in February and the low point of 12.3% in November 2013. This is still dramatically lower than the long-run average proportion of 19.9% and continues to be of concern.”

“The March 2014 lending figures indicate a stabilising market, which together with a Budget tonight which is expected to cut government spending, signal a period in which interest rates should stay low,” concluded Bushby.

Picture courtesy of Simon Yeo/Flickr/Creative Commons.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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