ULTRA-LOW INTEREST RATES AND 'FOMO' DRIVE DWELLING VALUES TO NEWHIGHS WITH DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH FOR MANY AREAS IN THE COUNTRY
As we previously projected, the housing market has shifted from a buyer’s market to a seller’s one, where fear of missing out (FOMO) has become a major factor. In addition, it is highly likely that the ultra-low interest rate environment will remain in place for at least for the next 24 months, and possibly longer.
This, combined with only a low availability of stock of quality assets in popular areas, has been reflected in almost unprecedented auction clearance rates.
BuyersBuyers.com.au co-founder Pete said that buyer’s agents have been reporting tight stock levels all over the country.
“It’s not uncommon to see lower stock levels over the summer break, but this year has been something else. Even as new listings have begun to pick up supply is being comfortably outstripped by demand and the market overall is very tight” Mr said.
“Melbourne presents a slightly different dynamic, with various disruptions making the market more disjointed, but in most parts of the country open homes are busy as confidence returns, and strong sales results are being reported in short order”.
Mr added that market dynamics confirmed earlier forecasts of strong price growth in 2021, with some markets likely to even better than previously forecast.
It is projected that both Sydney and Melbourne will deliver capital growth in the range of 8-12 per cent in 2021. Many areas are also likely to deliver double digit growth over the calendar year. In particular, houses with a high land value component and scarcity value are likely to enjoy very strong demand and capital growth, both in the short and long term.
Other markets, particularly south-east Queensland and popular regional areas that offer particularly good lifestyle choices, also enjoy strong demand, and this is likely to result in strong price growth both in the short- and long-term, as the trend of increased popularity of such areas is sustained.
The medium- and long-term projections for South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, are different than those that are projected to the eastern states. While many other areas that experience lower population growth and softer job market (in comparison to Sydney and Melbourne), such as Perth, are also experiencing strong capital growth for houses, this is less sustainable over the long term, due to lower external migration and a relatively smaller number of high paying jobs in the ‘knowledge industry’ (e.g., financial services, IT, etc).
Obviously, these are under our key underlying assumption is that the COVID-19 vaccinations that have been rolled out will provide a sustainable solution to the virus over time.
Rental apartments, however, continue to represent a higher risk at the present time, in particular inner-city apartment markets such as Inner-Melbourne.
Consumer sentiment is very high, as expected. According to Westpac-Melbourne Institute, in February, Westpac’s key measure of house price expectations has risen strongly to 154.7 from 117.3 in October. All states have registered impressive recoveries.
House price expectations are already being reflected in auction clearance rates figures, especially in Melbourne. Preliminary auction clearance rates in the last week of January showed results of 83 per cent in Melbourne and 83 per cent in Sydney, with noticeably higher auction clearance rates for houses than units. Clearance rates across the country are likely to remain high and similar to pre-pandemic Levels and well above the 70 per cent mark.
A sustained period of ultra-low interest rates seems almost certain in the foreseeable future. This has led some lenders to offer introductory home loan variable rates of 1.79 per cent, a move which follows the launch of the first fixed rates of 1.75 per cent. Consequently, this has led to an increase in housing finance.
The latest ABS data on new housing lending showed a record 31.2 per cent year-on-year rise, driven by a surge in owner-occupier lending (which includes a large increase in construction loans) as well as a smaller rise in investment lending. The value of new owner occupier home loan commitments increased by 8.7 per cent to $19.9 billion in December 2020 and the value of investor loan commitments was also up 10.9 per cent to $6.07 billion.
First home buyer activity is also well above the benchmark, up 56.6 per cent year-on-year. However, the share of owner-occupier activity is likely to reduce with an expected increase in investor activity.
A further increase in housing finance is highly likely during the first quarter of 2021 with many lenders already experiencing backlogs to address loan pre-approval applications. Ultra-low interest rates are also likely to have a positive impact on the market during 2021
Lifestyle areas enjoyed strong demand before COVID-19 hit, and the demand trend of sea- and treechange homebuyers is now, with flexible working arrangements, even stronger. Those who work in a stable corporate environment, but do so remotely, are taking advantage of great buying opportunities in NSW, Victoria, and south-east Queensland.
These include areas of south-east Queensland such as the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, just over the NSW border in Byron Bay, and further south on the Central Coast, in areas such as North Avoca, , and . Then, there are also sought-after locations such as the Hunter Valley, Wollongong, and the NSW South Coast, and in Victoria, the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, and Ballarat. Beachside suburbs especially are outperforming the wider market as they offer fantastic lifestyle opportunities. The ability to work remotely and to move to regional areas also has been a contributing factor in supporting housing affordability, as the pressure in capital cities will be somewhat mitigated.
Due to ultra-low interest rates, the housing market is reaching new highs with further price increases projected. Consequently, this will make dwellings less affordable when including the required deposit and closing costs. While internal migration to regional areas somewhat the problem, there is still a major undersupply of family suitable properties in popular areas with proximity to the major employment hubs.
High-rise apartments are not considered to be a fully substitutable product to houses and townhouses, and therefore will not materially impact the demand for houses. Housing affordability is likely to remain a chronic issue particularly in Greater Sydney, Greater Melbourne as well as popular areas in south-east Queensland.
However, it is likely that strong price increases will encourage APRA to watch the housing market closely, particularly given record low interest rates, high household debt, and signs of some revival in borrowing for speculative purposes. It should be noted that strong investor activity is perceived by the RBA as ‘speculation’ that increases the risks to financial
stability. Consequently, any major increase in investor activity is likely to trigger the reintroduction of macroprudential measures by APRA, at a certain point in time.
Population growth, as projected, has been reduced substantially and there will be significant reduction in total population growth due to low external migration, with Net Overseas Migration (NOM) in FY21 is expected to drop to -71,600 people, for Australia's first experience of negative NOM since 1946. This negative trend is forecast to continue in FY22 and only gradually return to pre-COVID levels from FY23 onwards. The reduction in overseas migration has and will continue to have a major impact on rental apartments that have already experienced increased vacancy rates and lower demand from investors.