Home prices fall 0.8% in April, RP Data figures reveal

Capital city house prices fell by 0.8% in April, according to the latest figures from RP Data and Rismark, leaving property values down by 4.5% compared to the same time last year.

The disappointing figures offset gains made in February and March and come just a day after the Housing Industry Association revealed the number of new home sales in April fell to its lowest point in nearly 20 years.

The results also come as the property industry all but begs the Reserve Bank for an interest rate cut when it meets this afternoon.

The RP Data-Rismark Index showed values fell by 0.8%, although over the quarter values rose by just 0.3%. On a yearly basis, values are down by 0.7%.

Five of the eight major capital cities saw values fall, with Hobart down 2.9%, Melbourne down 1.7% and Brisbane down 1.3%, while Sydney values fell by 0.3% as well. Darwin recorded the largest increase of 1.6%, while Canberra values rose by 0.2% as well.

Over the year, the largest decreases have been in Melbourne, down 7%, along with Brisbane down 6.4%, Hobart down 8.5%, and Adelaide down 4.2%. Sydney values have also fallen by 2.6%, along with Darwin prices, down 1.1%.

No capital city has seen values increase over the past year.

RP Data research director Tim Lawless said in a statement the two interest rate cuts in November and December are “yet to provide a sustained stimulus to the market”.

He points out transaction volumes remain steady at about 31,000 sales each month, compared with the sales rate through 2009 when about 45,000 homes were being sold. “The slowdown in buyer activity becomes quite clear,” he said.

Rismark managing director Ben Skilbeck also said the stability in the first quarter declined in the last two weeks of April, coinciding with the decision by ANZ to increase interest rates.

“With inflation figures now behind us, if the Reserve Bank does cut interest rates today and then again in June…home buyers will benefit from considerable affordability gains and the housing market is likely to see improved conditions building off the stability evident in the first quarter.”

The premium housing market remains weak. Dwelling values in the most expensive 20% of suburbs in the capital cities have fallen by 5.7% in the 12 months to March. The most affordable suburbs, however, have only seen values fall by 2.3%.

Despite the poor price performance, rents have improved. In capital cities, the weekly rent on a detached house is up by 4.1% over the year to April and unit rents are now up by 3.7%.


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