30 November 2022

Market madness is over as Canberra home prices continue to come back to reality

| Ian Bushnell
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Housing in Coombs

Canberra home prices have fallen but strong incomes and employment underpin the market. Photo: Region.

Canberra home prices have slipped a further 1.2 per cent in November, but the rate of decline since interest rates began rising in April has slowed.

The latest CoreLogic Home Value Index shows the overall median value at $869,235, with houses at under the million-dollar mark at $987,450, and units and townhouses at $600,628.

House prices came back 1.3 per cent and units and townhouses 0.8 per cent. So far in 2022 house prices have fallen 3.5 per cent but units and townhouses are still in the black at 3 per cent.

Nationally, the Corelogic index marked a seventh month of decline in November, down 1 per cent over the month to be 7 per cent, or about $53,400 below the peak value recorded in April 2022.

This decline comes after national housing values surged 28.6 per cent higher, adding roughly $170,700 to the value of the average dwelling.

CoreLogic says although prices are continuing to fall, the rate of decline has been consistently moderating since the national index dropped by 1.6 per cent in August.

CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said this was mostly emanating from Sydney and Melbourne but was also evident elsewhere.

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“The rate of decline has also eased across the ACT (from a 1.7 per cent fall in August), and is no longer accelerating in Brisbane,” he said. “Most of the broad rest-of-state markets have also seen the pace of declines decelerate.”

The frenzy of the past couple of years has definitely subsided in Canberra with fewer bidders at auctions and sellers having to adjust their expectations of significant premiums on pricing.

Zango reported a 62 per cent clearance rate for the week from 21 to 27 November; 46 properties sold for a median price of $1m and a top result of $1.6m.

But there were also several properties that sold in the range from $650,000 to $900,000.

Independent Woden Weston Creek Principal Mark Wolens said the “madness” of the ultra-low interest rate period had passed and the market had in effect returned to a normal level.

Mr Wolens said it remained a lot stronger than a soft market.

“The index doesn’t tell the whole story when we’re still getting record prices, particularly for good properties,” he said.

Properties that were not well presented and needed work had certainly come off a bit but prices were still high compared to what people paid two years ago.

A Hughes property at the weekend sold at auction with three registered bidders for $1.675m, which Mr Wolens said was around the right price.

He said the unpredictable upside at auction when competition was intense had disappeared, not the actual real pricing.

The Reserve Bank’s war on inflation had slowed the market and many people were waiting to see when interest rates would peak or how far prices would come back.

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“We’re just getting people delaying their decisions, watching what’s happening with interest rates,” Mr Wolens said.

This hesitation had resulted in some gazumping post auction.

He said one buyer shied away from the auction but then came back at the last moment when a Belconnen property was actually listed as sold, to pay $50,000 more than what they would have under the hammer.

Canberra’s affordability had certainly being affected now but not like Sydney or Melbourne.

That underlying income strength in Canberra meant prices should not retreat too far, and also buttress mortgage holders coming of low fixed rates if they haven’t overborrowed.

Mr Wolens said the other factor to consider besides interest rates is the country’s need for workers, including in the national capital.

“What happens when the country opens up and brings in 300,000, 400,000, 500,000, which we need to for our workforce,” he said.

“There’s the negative component of interest rates but at some point those two are going to meet.”

CoreLogic and other commentators say interest rates could peak in the first half of next year.

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William Newby8:11 am 01 Dec 22

Great so prices have crashed back to reality, it is now only $1m for a 50 year old shoe box in the outer suburbs, with zero insulation. Crisis averted!
I can only assume all this good news from Ian will lead to rents being dropped any day now?

devils_advocate11:58 am 01 Dec 22

Any reduction for landlords in terms of servicing their capital will be more than offset by the ongoing increases in rates and land tax (on top of the stamp duty already paid)

So I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Perhaps the huge influx of immigrants will bring rental prices down somehow? Makes about as much sense as anything else the ACT “government” claims

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