The heat is on
APP economist Garry Shilson-Josling shares his thoughts on the housing market.
An article from My Weekly Preview, 24 Jan, 2014
The Australian housing market is still simmering, according to the latest readings of sales and lending.
It’s being heated up by the increasing volumes of money flowing into it, and housing finance figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics last week just provide more evidence of that.
In November, lenders gave the go-ahead to 25 per cent more lending to investors and home buyers than they did a year earlier, with a goodly chuck of that heading into new housing. That has meant an extra $600 million going into the housing industry every month compared with 12 months before.
And that’s not counting lending from offshore, including by foreign branches of Australian banks, or flows of unencumbered cash.
So it’s no surprise that recent estimates have shown annual prices averaging around 10 per cent a year.
The title of Commonwealth Bank economist Michael Workman’s analysis of the finance figures put it simply, “More lending means higher house prices.”
And there may be more to come.
“At this stage dwelling prices appear to have some more upside as long as interest rates remain low,” Workman said in his report.
The strong undercurrent of demand showed up clearly in the new home sales figures from the Housing Industry Association last week.
Sales hit a two-and-a-half-year high in November, and the figures showed evidence of a pattern of sales responding to new supply, rather than what might normally be expected – increased building activity following a pickup in lending.
Spikes in sales in June, September and November appear to have followed short-term rises in building approvals two months earlier in each case.
Although it was hard to pin down statistically, it does appear that sales of apartments “off the plan” go a long way towards explaining this pattern, HIA chief economist Harley Dale said last week.
The Commonwealth Bank’s Workman identified the same pattern.
“One of the more unusual features of the current dwelling upswing is that buyers still remain keen on buying new properties, usually inner city or suburban apartments, off the plan, ” he said
“Buyers, who appear to be evenly split between investors and owner occupiers, are happy to take delivery up to two years from agreeing to buy.”
And figures from mortgage broker Australian Finance Group show the strength in demand continued up to the end of the year.
The value of new loans written by AFG in December was up by 29 per cent from a year before.
This market looks like simmering for a little while yet.
Our happy state
Confidence in Queensland’s property sector has surged, a report shows.
While positive sentiment improved across Australia to the highest level since the Property Council/ANZ Property Industry Confidence Survey began in 2011, Queensland was the knock-out.
The results revealed a 10 point spike in Queensland’s confidence for the March Quarter, up to 152 on the index, the highest in the country. A score of 100 is considered neutral.
The state also had the highest expectation of economic growth in the nation over the coming year.
“We have seen a dramatic shift in confidence among Queensland’s property industry over the past two surveys, driven primarily by the ongoing recovery of the residential market,” Property Council executive director Kathy MacDermott said in a statement.
“The previous quarter’s survey results exhibited first signs of a residential revival.
“During the past three months, industry’s house price growth expectations have grown to the highest levels in the country, and to historic levels for Queensland.”