There are more signs of cooling home prices in Sydney

Photo: William WedtAFP/Getty Images

Sydney home values remained unchanged in April, adding to a string of a data that points to a slowdown in property prices in the Australia’s largest city.

The April results mark the weakest monthly change in dwelling values in Sydney since December 2015 had a 1.2% fall, data from research firm CoreLogic showed today.

Apartment values fell 1.2% in Sydney last month. Melbourne values inched up 0.5%, while the increase across all capital cities was a mere 0.1%, the slowest pace in 15 months, the data showed.

The latest figures add to tentative signs of easing in Sydney, where prices have more than doubled since January 2009, prompting the Reserve Bank of Australia to voice concerns of financial stability risks and the banking regulator to tighten lending norms.

While the weekend’s new figures will be released later today, auction clearance rates in Sydney slipped last week, while growth in investor home loans, the primary drivers of the market, climbed at the slowest pace in six months.

This table shows the changes in dwelling values

“The softer results should also be viewed against a backdrop of an ever evolving regulatory landscape s which is firmly aimed at slowing investment and interest-only mortgage lending,” Tim Lawless, head of research at CoreLogic said. “The higher cost of debt, as well as stricter lending and servicing criteria, has likely dented investment demand over recent months.”

And this one points to the housing boom in Sydney and Melbourne

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority last month directed banks to limit the flow of new interest-only lending to 30% of total new residential mortgage lending, as well as placing strict internal limits on the volume of interest-only lending loan-to-value ratios. It also urged banks to to restrain lending growth in higher risk segments and apply prudent buffers in assessing loan eligibility.

The 30% limit on interest-only loans, which are favoured by investors, compares to about 40% of all new mortgages now, a level that APRA said was quite high by international and historical standards.

While tighter lending can dent demand in Sydney, where more than half the new mortgage demand is from investors, CoreLogic cautioned against calling a peak after just a month of “soft results.”

“April, in particular, coincides with seasonal factors including Easter, school holidays and ANZAC day long weekend,” Lawless said.

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