Capital City Dwelling Values Rise 0.8% Over June Quarter

From CoreLogic.

The CoreLogic Home Value Index recorded a recovery from the 1.1% fall in May, with a 1.8% rise in capital city dwelling values over the month of June.  According to CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless, “This stronger month-on-month reading can be partially explained by the seasonality in the monthly growth rates.  Adjusting for this effect suggests an easing trend in housing value growth has persisted through the second quarter of 2017.”

The June quarter results showed that capital city dwelling values were 0.8% higher across the combined capitals index; the slowest quarterly rate of growth since December 2015 when the combined capitals index fell by 1.4%.

Index results as at June 30, 2017

Mr Lawless said, “This trend towards lower capital gains across the combined capitals index is mostly attributable to softer conditions across the Sydney housing market, where quarter-on-quarter growth was recorded at 0.8% over the June quarter; down from 5.0% over the March quarter.  In contrast, the quarterly trend in Melbourne has been more resilient, with growth easing from 4.2% over the March quarter to 1.5% over the three months ending June.”

Weaker auction results are further evidence of slowing housing market conditions.

For Sydney, Mr Lawless said the more pronounced slowdown is supported by weaker auction clearance rates which have been tracking in the high 60% range across the city over the last three weeks of June, while in Melbourne, clearance rates have moderated but remained above 70%. He said, “Both markets experienced auction clearance rates consistently in the high 70% to low 80% range over the March quarter.”

Slower housing market conditions also reflected in the annual pace of capital gains.

Across the combined capitals, the annual pace of capital gains has eased from 12.9% three months ago to 9.6% at the end of June 2017.  Sydney’s annual growth rate has slowed to 12.2% over the twelve months ending June 2017, down from a recent high of 18.9% three months ago.  Melbourne’s annual growth rate is now the highest of any capital city, surpassing Sydney’s annual rate of growth despite easing from 15.9% three months ago, to 13.7% over the twelve months ending June 2017.

Outside of Sydney and Melbourne, housing market conditions remain diverse.

Brisbane now has the third highest quarterly pace of capital gains with dwelling values 0.5% higher over the June quarter.  Brisbane’s growth is entirely attributable to a 0.8% rise in house values which offset a 2.4% fall in unit values over the quarter.  Dwelling values slipped lower across the remaining capital cities, except Perth, which posted virtually flat growth conditions (+0.1%) over the June quarter.

The Problem With High Household Debt

The Bank for International Settlements has published their 87th Annual Report, to March 2017.  They say there are encouraging signs of economic recovery, but point to risks from high household debt and over-reliance on monetary policy.  They call for a rebalancing of policy towards structural reform.

They underscore the risks which result from over investment in housing, and excessive credit and make the point that in Australia, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland, household debt rose by 2–3 percentage points in 2016, to 86–128% of GDP. True growth comes from productive economic investment, not ever more housing debt, which becomes a real problem should interest rates rise.

They say that high levels of debt servicing will have a dampening impact on future economic growth.

It is well recognised that household borrowing is an important aspect of financial inclusion and can play useful economic roles, including smoothing consumption over time. At the same time, rapid household credit growth has featured prominently in financial cycle booms and busts. For one, household debt – or debt more generally – outpacing GDP growth over prolonged periods is a robust early warning indicator of financial stress.

The adverse effects of excessive credit growth can also be magnified by the economy’s supply side response. For example, banks’ stronger willingness to extend mortgages may feed an unsustainable housing boom and overinvestment in the construction sector, which may crowd out investment opportunities in higher-productivity sectors. Credit booms tend to go hand in hand with a misallocation of resources – most notably towards the construction sector – and a slowdown in productivity growth, with long-lasting adverse effects on the real economy.

Additional risks to consumption arise from elevated levels of household debt, in particular given the prospect of higher interest rates. Recent evidence from a sample of advanced economies suggests that increasing household debt in relation to GDP has boosted consumption in the short term, but this has tended to be followed by sub-par medium-term macroeconomic performance.

It is possible to assess the effect of higher interest rates on debt service burdens through illustrative simulations. These capture the dynamic relationships between the two components of the DSR (the credit-to-income ratio and the nominal interest rate on debt), real residential property prices, real GDP and the three month money market interest rate. Crisis-hit countries, where households have deleveraged post-crisis, appear relatively resilient to rising interest rates. In most cases  considered, debt service burdens remain close to long-run averages even in a scenario in which short-term interest rates increase rapidly to end-2007 levels. By contrast, in countries that experienced rapid rises in household debt over recent years, DSRs are already above their historical average and would be pushed up further by higher interest rates.

The shift to solitary living is massively inflating property prices

From The New Daily.

Australians increasingly choose to live alone, and this huge demographic shift is going to push up prices and sprawl our cities further into the fringe unless we accept higher density living.

According to the Victorian government, by 2025 up to 51 per cent of Melbourne households will be ‘no child households’.

‘No child households’ are those that are pre-child, post-child or have no intention of ever having children.

The numbers are similar for all of Australia’s major cities, although slightly lower in Sydney as it attracts a slightly higher percentage of families.

Worst still, the fastest growing segment of the Australian housing market is the single person household. Single person households may reach 44 per cent of all major city households by 2035.

What does this mean for communities and for housing prices?

According to the Grattan Institute, 84 per cent of Melbourne’s housing stock is made up of detached or semi-detached family homes. Only 16 per cent of the housing stock is aimed at non-family residences.

By 2025, 51 per cent of our population could be in non-family units with only 16 per cent of our housing stock aimed at this demographic.

There will be a shortage of non-family medium and higher density living with people forced to bid for family homes leaving bedrooms empty. Fewer people will live in each housing unit, putting massive upward pressure on housing prices.

As the average number of people per household shrinks we will need more residences for the same amount of population. If we do not radically increase density then these new houses will continue to be built on our urban-fringed farm land.

It is not just me calling for a re-think on planning demographics. Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, speaking in Brisbane earlier this year, identified “the choices we have made as a society regarding where and how we live … urban planning and transport” as significant impacting factors on property prices.

Property, like all markets, is impacted by changes to both supply and demand. While demand can be impacted by a range of economic factors, supply is restricted by planning rules and the availability of land, as well as economic factors.

Some people think all will be okay with housing supply as they think Australia’s housing density has increased. But this is not true. Whilst the last decade has seen an uptick in density, a longer-term view tells a very different story.

Inner city suburbs, prior to ‘gentrification’, used to house one, two and sometimes three families per house. Now days the inner city houses often have just one, two or three people.

Melbourne, for example, has seen a huge drop in its density from 20.3 people per hectare in 1960 to around 14.9 people per hectare today.

This change in demographics means that, even if our population stays the same, our cities don’t grow ‘up’ then they must grow ‘out’.

This decreasing density is eating up farmland on the urban fringe and putting huge strain on infrastructure spending as the cost per person per kilometre of infrastructure sky rockets.

It is dangerous and will continue even if the population remained exactly the same – let alone if we continue to grow our it.

As single person households age and get ill, will we see more horror stories of people falling ill or dying at home and remaining undiscovered for days or weeks as ‘friends’ wonder why they have not been online?

With decreasing family sizes, growing numbers of childless households and growing numbers of single person households, our housing supply is becoming more out of sync with our housing demand.

The result will be increased pressure on housing prices.

Sydney and Melbourne property prices look set to fall

From Business Insider.

Sydney house prices have another year or so of rises before the bubble shrinks.

Median housing prices in Sydney are overvalued by 14% and in Melbourne by 8%, but will decline gradually rather than sharply over the next few years, according to analysis by KPMG Economics predicts.

Sydney median prices are forecast to peak at $980,000 in 2019, up from $880,000 from June 2016, and then gradually roll back to between $930,000 and $950,000 by the end of the 2021 financial year.

However, Melbourne prices are expected to peak next year, pause for year or two, and then start to grow again.

The median prices in Melbourne are expected to rise to between $720,000 to $740,000, from about $650,000 in 2016, by the end of 2019. After plateauing, they will then regain momentum to be between $775,000 and $825,000 by the end of 2021.

“Our forecasts show Sydney will experience a greater adjustment than Melbourne in the next few years, but this is likely to be gradual rather than a collapse in the median dwelling price,” says Brendan Rynne, KPMG chief economist.

“Whether or not the current Sydney and Melbourne housing prices constitute a ‘bubble’ is a matter for debate, but we estimate that short-term factors have pushed median dwelling prices above their long-term ‘equilibrium’ prices by about 14% and 8% respectively.

“But it should be remembered that this has happened before in Australia and prices have returned to equilibrium without the sort of crash we have returned to equilibrium without the sort of crash we have seen in other countries after the GFC.

“We expect the same again to happen here now. We anticipate a cooling in price growth, and from next year prices will start to gradually come down. While prices are high now, they are still within known boundaries by historic standards.”

Here’s how KPMG sees Sydney and Melbourne house prices moving:

Source: KPMG

KPMG’s report, Housing affordability: What is driving house prices in Sydney and Melbourne?, argues that Sydney house prices have become more volatile since the GFC even though there has not been the same volatility in supply, demand and costs.

It also finds there is a long-term relationship between house prices and variables including working population levels, stock of dwellings, rate of borrowing by property investors, and the adoption of stronger prudential controls by the regulator APRA.

The banks have been winding back their interest only offerings favoured by property investors, increasing rates, while offering better deals on principal and interest mortgages.

Anecdotal evidence suggests demand by Chinese investors for Australian residential property may have softened in recent months due a combination of factors, including the adoption of differential stamp duty in some states, and vacant property taxes for foreign buyers.

“Investors both here and overseas have been the key driver behind the housing price boom and policymakers are now addressing this,” says Rynne.

Moody’s Cuts Aussie Bank Ratings Due To “Tail Risk” Concerns

From Zero Hedge.

Back in 2007, the ratings agencies were so woefully behind the eight ball in understanding and reporting the credit risks in the U.S. financial system that it was nearly impossible to tell from day to day whether they were really just that incompetent or if they were complicit in the biggest financial fraud in history.  Regardless of which you believe is more likely, they seem intent upon not making the same mistake again…at least not in Australia.

As The Sydney Morning Herald points out today, Moody’s has cut the long-term credit rating of Australia’s four biggest banks after pointing to surging home prices, rising household debt and sluggish wage growth as potential threats to the financial industry down under.  Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank Ltd. and Westpac Banking Corp. were all downgraded to Aa3 from Aa2, Moody’s said in a statement released earlier today. Per The Sydney Morning Herald

“In Moody’s view, elevated risks within the household sector heighten the sensitivity of Australian banks’ credit profiles to an adverse shock, notwithstanding improvements in their capital and liquidity in recent years,” the statement said.

“In Moody’s assessment, risks associated with the housing market have risen sharply in recent years. Latent risks in the housing market have been rising in recent years, because significant house price appreciation in the core housing markets of Sydney and Melbourne has led to very high and rising household indebtedness,” the statement said.

“The rise in household indebtedness comes against the backdrop of low wage growth and structural changes in the labour market, which have led to rising levels of underemployment”.

“Whilst mortgage affordability for most borrowers remains good at current interest rates, the reduction in the savings rate, the rise in household leverage and the rising prevalence of interest-only and investment loans are all indicators of rising risks.”

Of course, as we’ve pointed out multiple times before, the Chinese money laundering operation…sorry, we meant Sydney “housing market”…puts the previous U.S. housing bubble to shame.

Of course, all of the banks that are now being downgraded are the same ones that assured us just a couple of months ago that Australian home prices were not in a “speculative bubble.” Testifying before a parliamentary committee, the chief executives of National Australia Bank, Westpac Banking and Commonwealth Bank of Australia all said that while they were worried about elements of the housing market, prices weren’t over-inflated.  Per Bloomberg

“I would draw the distinction between a speculative bubble in prices and prices beyond what fundamentals would justify,”Westpac’s Brian Hartzer told the committee in Canberra Wednesday. A bubble isn’t occurring in Sydney or Melbourne, where house prices have risen the most, he said.

“There are increasing risks, but I still believe the answer is no,” National Australia Bank’s Andrew Thorburn said when asked if houses in Sydney and Melbourne are overpriced.

Commonwealth Bank, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, is “lending at levels we are comfortable with” across Australia, Chief Executive Officer Ian Narev told the committee when he testified Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the ever-important “crane-index” helps to put some perspective around just how ‘bubbly’ the Australia market has become.


Of course, maybe Australia’s bankers are right and bubbly home prices are just the result of strong fundamentals.  Although, the last time a prominent banker made a similar prediction in the U.S. he turned out to be just a bit off the mark.  Ben Bernanke (July 2005):

“Well, unquestionably, housing prices are up quite a bit; I think it’s important to note that fundamentals are also very strong. We’ve got a growing economy, jobs, incomes. We’ve got very low mortgage rates. We’ve got demographics supporting housing growth. We’ve got restricted supply in some places. So it’s certainly understandable that prices would go up some. I don’t know whether prices are exactly where they should be, but I think it’s fair to say that much of what’s happened is supported by the strength of the economy.”


Residential property prices rise 2.2 per cent

Residential property prices rose 2.2 per cent in the March quarter 2017, the fourth consecutive quarter of growth, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Program Manager for Prices Branch, Marcel van Kints, said; “While residential property prices rose in most capital cities this quarter, Sydney and Melbourne continue to drive the national result.”

The price rises in Sydney (3.0 per cent) and Melbourne (3.1 per cent) were partially offset by falls in Perth (1.0 per cent) and Darwin (0.9 per cent).

Through the year growth in residential property prices reached 10.2 per cent in the March quarter 2017. Sydney recorded the largest through the year growth of all capital cities at 14.4 per cent, followed closely by Melbourne at 13.4 per cent.

The total value of Australia’s 9.9 million residential dwellings increased $163.1 billion to $6.6 trillion. The mean price of dwellings in Australia is now $669,700.

This ongoing rise may go counter to some recent data, although we note the CoreLogic data this week also shows rises in most centres, after recent softer data.

But of course the ABS data is prior to the recent regulatory interventions. As the HIA puts it:

“There is evidence that since March 2017 dwelling price growth has slowed following the introduction of additional restrictions by APRA and increased barriers to foreign investor participation imposed at federal and state level”.

So the next ABS series, due out in 3 months will be the one to watch.  Why do we need to wait so long for this data? The ABS is very slow to generate this particular series.




Auction Results 17 June 2017

The preliminary auction results for 17 June 2017 from Domain, show a national clearance rate of 71.3% with 1,041 sold, up from last week which was a long weekend, but lower than this time last year.

Sydney cleared 69.6% with 418 sold, compared with 72.2% with 654 sold this time last year. In Melbourne, 75.3% cleared with 549 sold compared with 69.2% with 654 sold this time last year. So some easing is visible.

Brisbane cleared 44% of 97 listed, Adelaide 80% of 72 listed and Canberra 55% of 53 listed.


Households Budgets Under Pressure – The Property Imperative Weekly 17 June 2017

Household financial pressures continue to build as the costs of energy rise, under employment lifts to a record and interest rates climb. Welcome to the Property Imperative weekly to 17th June 2017.

Power bills will soar by hundreds of dollars next month in east coast states, and experts blame policy uncertainty in Canberra. Two major retailers, Energy Australia and AGL, have announced they will hike prices substantially from July 1. A third, Origin Energy, is expected to follow soon. Energy Australia will increase power bills by almost 20 per cent, roughly $300 more a year, for households in South Australia and New South Wales. Gas prices will go up 9.3 per cent in NSW and 6.6 per cent in SA, adding between $50 and $80 to annual bills.

In this week’s economic news, whilst the headline unemployment rate remained at 5.7%, there are significant state variations. Unemployment remains above 7% in South Australian, and below 3.5% in the Northern Territory.

The really important, yet under-reported data related to underemployment, which is at its highest level since records began in the 1970s. The trend estimate of underemployment worsened from 8.7 per cent in December-February to 8.8 per cent in March-May, which means around 1.1 million Australian workers are crying out for more hours.

Pressure on interest rates are likely to continue, with the FED lifting the benchmark rate, and analysts are suggesting the FED funds rate is likely to normalise at 3.5% by 2020, and U.S. 10-year bond yields will rise back above 4%. It seems they were prepared to look through weak first quarter consumption and GDP and underlines concerns about US unemployment falling too far below its equilibrium rate.

But there is a knock of effect, in that the T10 bond yield is directly linked to the price of money on the international capital markets, and as Australian banks, especially the larger ones are reliant on international funding, this will put upward pressure on mortgages rates here.

So, putting all this together, we expect pressure on household budgets will continue to grow. We expect the number of households in mortgage stress to pass 800,000 quite soon. That’s getting close to a quarter of households.

Analysis of the latest Westpac and Melbourne Institute’s consumer sentiment index, which reported at 96.2 in June 2017, shows the “time to buy a dwelling index” which is a subset of the consumer sentiment index was at 90.9 points and is hovering around the lowest levels seen since the financial crisis.  Whilst Australians tend to be bullish on housing and its prospects, this data shows that sentiment towards housing has been consistently negative since February of this year.

Several more banks made changes to mortgage interest rates and underwriting standards.  For example, Bank West reduced the maximum LVR on interest only loans to 80% and some loan rates will rise between 4 and 34 basis points for both existing owner occupied and investor loans. On the other hand, the bank will reinstate applications from non-Bankwest customers for standalone refinance of P&I investor purpose loans and dropped the rate for some new P&I investment lending.

CBA changed its serviceability buffers to fall in line with the other majors. For those taking out a new mortgage who already have an existing CBA home loan, line of credit or business loan, the bank will assess the ability to pay through an interest rate buffer of 7.25% p.a. or the current interest rate plus 2.25% p.a. minus any existing rate concessions (whichever is higher). For customers with an existing owner occupied/investment, line of credit or business loan with an external financial institution, CBA will apply a service loading of 30% to the current repayment amount.

Teachers Mutual Bank increased home loan variable and fixed interest rates by 10 basis points or 0.10%, for new business. It has 174,000 members and more than $5.3 billion in assets.

We are also seeing some banks tweak their mortgage origination strategy, as they power up owner occupied mortgage lending through their branch networks, whilst slowing the volume of loans written through the broker channel, and interest only loans to investors in particular. In a recent The Adviser survey, brokers who had experienced channel conflict were asked which type of loan their clients had been approached by their bank to refinance. Almost 74 per cent of brokers said clients with owner-occupier mortgages had been targeted.

The Senate Inquiry into the Bank Tax heard from industry participants this week. On one hand the Customer Owned Banking Association – COBA –  the industry association for Australia’s customer owned banking institutions – mutual banks, credit unions and building societies said they welcomed the tax as it would help to rebalance competition in the Industry. They claim that the implicit Government guarantee, which the major banks enjoy, stacks the deck in terms of pricing.

On the other hand, the majors said that whilst they accept the tax will be imposed, the costs cannot be absorbed and will be passed on the customers, shareholders and staff members. They said the levy should be temporary, and should be extended to include foreign banks operating in Australia to level the playing field.

So what started as a cash grab by the Treasurer has morphed into a significant discussion about banking competition and funding. But the bottom line is, bank customers will pay.

Research released this week suggested that far from being the ‘bad guys’, property investors actually keep the Australian economy afloat. They found that federal, state and local governments collect about $50 billion in property taxes every year – with property investors paying substantially higher rates than owner occupiers. Every year property investors pay $8 billion in stamp duty, $7 billion in land tax, $130 million in council taxes, as well as tax on $7.5 billion of net rental gains. Property investors also declared gross profits of $50 billion on property sales in 2015, according to estimates, which would have attracted billions more in taxation revenue.

Our latest survey data indicates that forward demand for property is easing, driven by concerns about future interest rate rises, tighter bank lending rules and rising costs of living. This is confirmed by lower clearance rates at auction over the long weekend, and further indications are emerging that home prices are easing.

The net effect of these changes will be to apply a drag anchor to economic growth. Just how severe this braking effect will be remains to be seen, but I think we can safely say we are on a falling trajectory. What property investors choose to do suddenly becomes very important.

That’s the Property Imperative for this week. Check back next time for the latest update. Thanks for watching.



Bendigo Changes Homesafe Income Accounting

Bendigo Bank announced they have made a change to the treatment of Homesafe for cash earnings purposes to exclude any unrealised income or losses and associated funding costs. This will not change the statutory earnings report, when the full year results on released on 14th August.

Realised earnings from completed contracts will still be included, but the mark-to-market element will now be excluded. Interesting timing given the fact that home price growth looks to be stalling! This will probably reduce the volatility of earning going forward. But Bendigo had a 6% long run home price growth assumption.

The net effect will be a reduction in cash earnings.  This change will remove any unrealised income or losses from cash earnings for the years ended 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017 and future years’ results.



The Great Rotation – The Property Imperative Weekly 3rd June

The great rotation is well underway as investors vote with their feet whilst first time buyers are getting greater incentives to buy into the market at its peak. Welcome to the Property Imperative Weekly for 3rd June 2017.

In this weeks review we look at changes to mortgage interest rates, new first time buyer incentives and new findings from our core market model, freshly updated to end of May.

We saw a litany of rate hikes during the week, and other changes to lending conditions. On Monday NAB reduced the maximum LVR for interest only loans from 95% to 80% for both owner occupied and investor purchasers.  They also reduced the LVR for construction loans to 90%.

On Tuesday, AMP bank lifted its variable interest rate for owner occupied loans by 28 basis points and the bank also hiked fixed rates for owner-occupied and investment interest-only loans by 20 basis points. They dropped the maximum loan-to-value ratio for interest-only loans from 90 per cent to 80 per cent. On the other hand, fixed rates for owner-occupied principal and interest loans have decreased by 10 basis points.

On the same day Westpac reduced the LVR for new and existing interest only loans to 80%, across the board including both owner occupied and investment loans. They also said they would no longer accept new standalone refinance applications from external providers. But they waived the switching fees for borrowers who wanted to shift from interest only to principal and interest loans.

On Wednesday NAB offered new white label principal and interest mortgages through its Advantedge wholesale funder, with a maximum LVR of 80%, including at 4.24% loans to residential investors.

On Thursday, Teachers Mutual brought out a new hybrid combination mortgage, which limits the amount of the loan which can be interest only.  They also increased the interest only loan rate by 40 basis points.

And on Friday, Bank West, the CBA subsidiary announced a new LVR band at 95% plus, with a mortgage rate of 5.29%, up by three quarters of a percent. Other lending will be capped at 95% LVR.

So mortgage rates continue to rise, especially for interest only loans, and investors; and underwriting standards continue to tighten.  Many households will see their repayments rise, again, despite no change in the RBA cash rate, so adding to their financial stress.

This week we got the April lending data from the RBA and APRA. The Reserve Bank said housing lending rose 0.5% in the month, or 6.5% over the past year to $1.66 trillion dollars. Within this, owner occupied loans rose 0.55% whilst investment loans grew 0.36%, and another $1.1 billion were reclassified by the banks, making a total of $52 billion which is nearly 10% of the investment loan book. This ongoing switching should be concerning the regulators because it means that either the bank data is just wrong, or borrowers are deciding to switch an investment loan to an owner occupied loan to get a lower rate, but we wonder what checks are being done when this occurs.

The proportion of lending to productive business fell again, so housing lending is still dominating the scene to the detriment of the broader economy and sustainable long term growth.

APRA showed that the banks lifted their investor loans by $2.1 billion in April though all the majors are well below the 10% speed limit. The quarterly property exposures showed a fall in higher LVR lending, but interest only loans still well above the 30% threshold APRA set. But weirdly APRA warned that we should not use these statistics to access the impact of their latest moves, because the reported data is based on approved loans, whereas their measure is on funded loans. So plenty of wriggle room and more fog around the data.

Talking of wriggling, Wayne Byres gave evidence to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee and under sustained questioning said alarm bells were ringing on home prices and that we had entered a high risk phase.  It is worth watching the video of the session, which is linked on the DFA Blog.  The regulators continue to be coy about the issue, which by the way is confronting many other countries too. The truth is the financialisation of property is the root cause of the property bubbles around the world, and it will be very hard to tame. Australia is not the only country with a bubble.

Amid all this mayhem, and with bank stocks under pressure relative to the rest of the market, New South Wales released their housing affordability plan. NSW has perpetuated the “quick fix” approach to housing affordability, alongside taxing foreign investors harder and making changes to planning. The removal of stamp duty concessions to property investors may slow that sector, but the fundamental issue is that supply is not the problem many claim it to be.

First time buyers are potentially able to get up to $34,360, but we think this will just push prices higher. The new arrangements start 1 July, so we expect a slow June. With the enhanced incentives in Victoria and Queensland also coming on stream, we are expecting a pick-up in first time buyer demand as investor appetite slows. Our latest surveys show this rotating trend, and we will publish the detailed finding over the next few days. But already we see some investors are selling, to lock in capital growth, and some first time buyers have renewed their search to buy, on the back of the new incentives, and greater supply.

Meantime there was further evidence that property prices are indeed drifting lower . According to CoreLogic’s Home Value Index they fell in Sydney and Melbourne over the month of May, by 1.3% and 1.7% respectively.  It is becoming increasingly clear the momentum is easing, so it now is a question of how far it eases down, and whether prices go sideways, or fall significantly.

We expect mortgage rates to continue to rise. ANZ said their new APRA risk weight for mortgages was now 28.5%, which was at the top end of expectations.  But whilst this is higher than the sub-20 lows, it is still significantly lower than the regional banks capital weights, and even allowing for the bank tax, they remain at a capital disadvantage.  We think APRA will lift capital weights further down the track, and when we take account of expected US rate rises also, mortgage rates will continue to climb. This feeds into, and reinforces the potential slide in prices. Whilst first time buyers may take up some of the slack, we think the market dynamic is morphing into something rather ugly.

And that’s the latest Property Imperative Weekly. Check back next week for the latest installment.