Property Prices in Australia

We are frequently asked by investors about the property market. In our last Investment News, we reported that dire predictions of the market’s imminent collapse had been shown to be wrong. As a result, one prophet of gloom, Steven Keen, now has to walk from Canberra to Mt Kosciusko wearing a t-shirt proclaiming his error.

So what has been happening in property in 2009?

The overseas picture

With the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, some property markets have experienced a significant downturn. The problems in the US are well documented and are likely to be ongoing, as the entire nation enters a sustained period of enforced saving.

The UK has also had a difficult time, with house prices recently posting their first quarterly increase since the third quarter of 2007. Closer to home, New Zealand is still down on its peak in 2007, although there are signs of consolidation and recovery.

Property in Australia through 2009

The experience in Australia has been markedly different. In 2008, the market reduced by 3% ‘peak to trough’ between February and December. However, by March 2009 it was becoming clear that this softening was limited both in scope and duration. At this time, Anthony Richards, the Head of the Economic Analysis Department of the Reserve Bank of Australia, noted that:

1. the weakness in housing prices was mainly at the higher end of the market; and
2. preliminary data was already showing a significant pick-up in the market.

Although we have obviously not yet completed the final quarter of 2009, it seems clear that Richards’ early assessment was accurate. According to RP Data-Rismark, by the end of the third quarter Australian house prices had risen by approximately 8%.

Of course, not all regions in Australia were equal. Darwin experienced 6.3% growth in the third quarter alone and Melbourne and Sydney easily exceeded the national average. However, other regions, such as Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, have been less buoyant, despite having provided the best overall results in recent years.

Property performance and investment

There is no doubt that many who have ridden the recent roller coaster on equities markets would be looking enviously at the stability of the Australian property markets. But investors should always recall that the property market does not rise and fall uniformly. All investment, including property investment, involves risk.

Posted by LaTrobe Financial on 26/11/09