Kathryn Lee - 22 Apr, 2021

Record number of Australians thinking about buying property

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It’s the discussion at every dinner table around the country. Home buying has proved a popular talking point of late, with a record-high number of Australians thinking about buying property.

Over February, the Commonwealth Bank Household Spending Intentions (HSI) series revealed continued strength in the Australian property market.

Home buying spending intentions soared to new heights, with the smoothed series reaching its highest level since the start of the data series in 2015.

According to the report, February also saw an increase in both mortgage applications as well as Google searches related to home buying.

The report expects the home buying market to continue to be a leading source of support for the Australian economy over 2021, with the market largely driven by ongoing low-interest rates.

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Property prices still on their way up

A far cry from the falls predicted in 2020, the Australian property market has been performing well – and it’s not expected to stop any time soon.

After remaining relatively stable over 2020 (despite talks of drops of up to 40%) the property market is undergoing rapid growth.

According to CoreLogic, Australian housing values are currently rising at their fastest rate in 32 years.

The property market analysis company’s latest National Home Value Index showed property values increased 2.8% in March; the largest month-on-month change since October 1988.

According to the big banks, property prices are likely to continue to surge over the next two years.

Commonwealth Bank anticipates property prices could climb 8% by the end of 2021 and a further 6% in 2022.

“We forecast national house prices to rise by about 16 per cent over the next two years and unit prices to rise by about 9 per cent,” said Commonwealth Bank head of Australian economics.

Meanwhile, Westpac predicts prices could soar 20% between now and 2023.

“The housing market has strong, broad momentum that looks to be lifting further and will remain well supported by monetary conditions and the improving economy,” said Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan.

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Capital cities outpace regional markets for the first time in a year

For the first time in a year, growth in capital city markets has outpaced regional markets.

According to CoreLogic’s March Home Value Index report, capital cities saw a 2.8% lift whereas regional areas gained 2.5%.

“Housing values in regional areas are 11.4% higher over the past year, demonstrating the earlier stronger growth trend; capital city values are now 4.8% higher on an annual basis with the acceleration in growth evident in March,” said CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless.

The figures are in contrast with the upturn in popularity regional markets saw over 2020.

Last year, property values in regional and rural areas shot up by almost 10%, five times the growth rate of Sydney.

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Homebuying popular but supply low

Demand in the housing market is high and properties are being snapped up fast.

While partly to do with low interest rates, which continue to lure buyers with low finance costs and greater borrowing power, stock levels are also low, causing issues in supply and further increasing demand.

During March, advertised stock levels dipped -25.5% below the five-year average.

According to CoreLogic’s Tim Lawless, buyer demand is so high that new listings are disappearing quickly.

“The ratio of sales to new listings is tracking at around 1.1, implying for every new listing added to the market, 1.1 homes are sold,” Mr Lawless said.

“Such a rapid rate of absorption is keeping overall inventory levels low and adding to a sense of FOMO amongst buyers.”

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Words by Kathryn Lee

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