Australia's housing market is now valued at $6.6 trillion, up $1 trillion in just 2 years

A crowd of bidders at an auction. Photo: iStock

Australian capital city home prices rose for a fourth consecutive quarter at the start of 2017, according to data released by Australia’s Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The ABS said that prices rose 2.2% for the quarter, with gains of 3.4%, 3.1% and 3.0% in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney offsetting declines of 1% and 0.9% in Perth and Darwin, the capitals most exposed to developments in the mining industry.

Previously prices grew by 4.1% in the final three months of 2016.

This table from the ABS shows price changes across Australia’s capitals over the March quarter and from a year earlier.

Source: ABS

And this separate table from the ABS shows quarterly price movements in detached housing, shown in the middle column, and for attached housing such as units and townhouses in the far right column.

Source: ABS

From a national perspective, house prices increased by 2.4% over the quarter, outpacing a smaller gain in attached housing at 1.7%.

While Sydney and Melbourne often steal the headlines when it comes to property price movements, Hobart, with house prices and those for attached dwellings up 3.1% and 5.1% respectively, put in a particularly robust performance over the quarter.

Over the year, the ABS said that prices across the capitals jumped by 10.2%, with Sydney and Melbourne yet again leading the pack with strong gains of 14.4% and 13.4% respectively.

The national increase largely reflects that most house in Australia are located in these two capitals.

House prices rose by 11.5% from a year earlier, with those for attached dwellings growing by a smaller 6.6%.

For houses, prices increased by 16.1% and 16% respectively in Melbourne and Sydney, while those in Canberra and Hobart added 10.6% apiece.

At the other end of the spectrum, prices fell by 5.6% and 3.2% in Darwin and Perth from a year earlier.

Those in Brisbane and Adelaide grew by 4.3% and 5.6% respectively.

In attached housing markets, Hobart, at 14.6%, led gains across the country, followed by Sydney at 11.1%.

Outside of those markets prices grew slightly, or in the case of Brisbane, Perth and Darwin went backwards.

Prices in Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide added 3.9%, 2.9% and 3.2% respectively, while those in Brisbane, Perth and Darwin declined by 0.4%, 5% and 5.6%.

With prices in Australia’s largest capitals soaring over the year, it saw the value of Australia’s housing stock swell to $6.6 trillion, the highest level on record.

That figure has now increased by over $1 trillion in just the past two years.

According to latest figures released by the RBA, the total value of outstanding housing loans sat at $1.664 trillion as at the end of May.

Source: ABS

From a national perspective, and reflecting that a large bulk of Australia’s housing stock is located in Sydney and Melbourne, the average price for an Australian home now stands at $669,700, up $13,900 from the previous quarter.

Again, this is a national average, and not reflective of price discrepancies across the country.

By state and territory, New South Wales remains the most expensive state in Australia with the average home price sitting at $886,800. This figure includes both home and attached dwellings, and captures prices not only in Sydney but across the state.

Elsewhere the average price in Victoria stood at $708,300, with those in the ACT rounding out the top three at $678,400.

Tasmania, despite some strong price growth in Hobart over the year, remained the cheapest housing market with the average price sitting at $357,000

Reflecting Australia’s residential building boom over the past few years, particularly concentrated in units, the ABS said that total housing stock increased by 39,800 to 9.858 million dwelling.

While prices continued to surge higher in Sydney and Melbourne over the March quarter, it must be remembered that this is data from nearly three months ago, and does not reflect the impact of recent regulatory tightening from Australia’s banking regulator, APRA, targeting investor activity in the housing market.

Nor does it capture the impact of out-of-cycle rate mortgage rate increases, and a recent drop in new housing finance, that have occurred in recent months.

All the recent data — be it auction clearance rates or house price data from CoreLogic — suggests that these have all contributed to a modest slowdown in the housing market, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

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