House prices flat in August, but capitals improve during most recent quarter

Home owners and investors should prepare themselves for more disappointment, after new figures show values remained flat in August despite having increased in both June and July.

However, there is some hope. The new RP Data-Rismark figures show values have risen by 1.6% over the last three months, and seven out of eight capital cities have recorded gains.

There are also some improvements to be seen – in the year to date values have declined just 0.6%, compared to the 2.2% decline recorded in May.

During the quarter, Darwin has recorded the highest increase at 5.2%, followed by Canberra at 2.8%, Melbourne at 2.5%, Sydney at 2.4%, Hobart at 1% and Brisbane at 0.6%.

Perth recorded just 0.2% growth, while Adelaide values dropped by 2.2%.

During the month of August, however, results are a little more disappointing. Sydney and Melbourne have recorded growth of 0.1%, while Adelaide led the charge with a 1.4% increase, followed by Canberra at 1.2%.

Brisbane, Perth, Hobart and Darwin all recorded declines.

In comparison to the same time last year, Hobart values have fallen 5.3%, Brisbane is down 4.3%, Adelaide is down 4.2%, Melbourne is down 3.7% and Sydney has declined 1.1%.

Only Canberra and Darwin have recorded increases at 0.3% and 4.2% respectively.

But RP Data research director Tim Lawless said Melbourne is showing signs of improvement, and that should be a relief for investors, given the city’s slower pace in the beginning of the year.

“In May 2012, Melbourne home values were down 5.1% in just the first five months of the year.”

“However, the bounce in the period since the RBA’s May and June rate cuts has helped Melbourne values claw back about half of these losses to be off a more palatable -2.6%.”

He also highlighted the fact cities have recorded gains across the quarter.

The news is encouraging heading into spring, but as Lawless points out, there are issues.

“The big question is, ‘can this growth be sustained?’ On the one hand, winter is seasonally slow, so these results have been encouraging.”

“On the other hand, we know that there is likely to be an increase in new supply over spring, which may introduce some headwinds for a recovering market.”

Lower property value gains have been partly attributed to the glut of stock on the market, which will increase during spring.

Auction results indicate sales have started the spring selling season well, but it usually takes several weeks for results to take hold. Some analysts fear the season won’t be much of an improvement on last year and remain lacklustre – which could mean another year of subdued sales.

But a Rismark spokesperson says “we remain of the view that 2012 will yield better outcomes than those experienced in 2011”.

“Substantially improved housing affordability combined with new demand deriving from the self-managed superannuation and Asian markets are a positive.”




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