Five reasons to expect a cooling in the property market: Shane Oliver

Oliver said the anticipated gradual recovery in immigration may take pressure off capital city prices.

Five reasons to expect a cooling in the property market: Shane Oliver
Sydney Harbour shoreline. Image supplied

There are five reasons to expect a further slowing in the national average home price growth next year, which will follow by a peak in prices sometime in the second half of 2022, and then falling prices in 2023, according to Dr Shane Oliver, Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist at AMP Capital.

"We remain of the view that we may be getting closer to the end of the 25-year bull market in property prices," he said.

He suggests firstly worsening affordability is constraining more buyers. Affordability has long been an issue in the Australian property market, he noted.

"While interest rates are still low the surge in house prices relative to wages has gone hand in hand with a surge in the level of debt relative to incomes.

"That now means that it takes 8 years to save for a deposit in Sydney and 7 years in Melbourne.

"This is now squeezing out first home buyers yet again (which has seen their share of new housing finance fall from 25% to 18% since December) and increasingly existing owners looking to trade up are being squeezed out as well.

"This is particularly an issue in Sydney and Melbourne and partly explains their slowing relative to other cities.

Secondly Oliver noted the supply/ demand balance is starting to improve.

"Supply is on the rise again reflecting pent up selling, the end of lockdowns and high prices.

"This could start to reverse the chronically low level of listings seen over the last 18 months.

"More fundamentally strong levels of home building over the last two years following the unit building boom since 2015, combined with the absence of immigrants - which has resulted in a slump in underlying housing demand - have started to see the underlying supply/demand balance come under control," he noted.

Thirdly Oliver noted rising interest rates will reduce the amount new borrowers can borrow and hence pay for dwellings.

"Fixed mortgage rates are already on the rise (with several banks increasing them by 0.5% or more) and the RBA is expected to start raising the cash rate (and hence variable mortgage rates) from late next year. Rising interest rates are likely to be a big dampener.

"The collapse in fixed rates to 2% or less played a big role in the recent boom.

"Fixed mortgages have accounted for 50% or so of new loans recently, so are far more significant than they used to be in impacting new buyer demand (even though there is no impact on existing fixed borrowers until they roll off current terms which may become an issue next year)," he noted.

Fourthly Oliver noted macro prudential tightening is reducing the amount new borrowers can borrow and pay for homes.

"So far APRA has told banks to increase the interest rate serviceability buffer they apply to borrowing rates in assessing borrowers from 2.5% to 3% and are now moving to require banks to hold more capital for higher risk loans.

"The former will reduce the amount borrowers can borrow and the latter will raise the interest rate on or reduce the supply of higher risk loans.

"Further tightening measures are possible."

Finally Oliver noted a rotation in consumer spending back towards services as reopening occurs (covid and the Omicron variant permitting) may reduce housing demand.

He noted there had been a "sharp loss of momentum since March" as a result of worsening affordability, rising supply, rising rates, macro prudential tightening and some eventual rotation in spending away from housing.

"We expect a further slowing in home price gains to 5% in 2022, with prices likely to start falling from around September/October next year resulting in a 5 to 10% decline in prices in 2023," he said.

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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