The cost of housing has continued to rise across most parts of the country over the past 12 months, pushing the proportion of homes selling for at least one million dollars to new record highs. Bracket creep should come as no surprise in markets like Sydney and Melbourne where dwelling values have increased by 77% and 61% respectively over the past five years. While the rise in housing values has been most pronounced in Sydney and Melbourne, most other capital cities and regional areas have also seen a proportional lift in home sales over the million dollar mark.
Over the 12 months to June 2017, 15.4% of all house sales and 8.8% of all unit sales nationally were at a price of at least $1 million. By comparison, 12 months earlier 14.4% of all house sales and 7.5% of all unit sales were at least $1 million in value.
Annual % of sales of at least $1 million,
The instances of dwellings selling for at least $1 million is much more prevalent across the combined capital cities. Over the 12 months to June 2017, 23.2% of all houses and 10.8% of all units sold in capital cities were sold for at least $1 million. The proportion of sales of at least $1 million has increased over the year from 21.5% of houses and 9.1% of units.
Across the combined capital cities this week, the number of homes taken to auction rose to 2,011, compared with 1,857 over the previous week. This was the largest number of auctions held since the last week of June 2017 and approximately one third higher compared with the same week a year ago.
The preliminary auction clearance rate of 70.5 per cent has increased relative to last week’s final clearance rate, up from 68.2 per cent. However as more results are collected it is expected that the final auction clearance rate will revised lower to remain within the high 60 per cent range where it has tracked since the first week of June.
Over the corresponding week last year, the clearance rate was 75.0 per cent and 1,471 auctions were held. In Sydney, the preliminary clearance rate rose to 72.0 per cent, which was higher than Melbourne’s preliminary clearance rate of 71.0 per cent. Afar Melbourne has remained the stronger performer for many weeks it is possible that Melbourne’s final clearance rate could drop below the 70 per cent mark for the first time since July last year.
The first week of August saw fewer auctions held across the combined capital cities, with 1,846 held, down from the 1,987 auctions held the previous week, however higher than the 1,540 auctions one year ago. The preliminary auction clearance rose to 71.5 per cent, after the previous week saw the final auction clearance rate fall slightly to 68.7 per cent (revised lower from a preliminary clearance of 70.7%).
Over the last month, auction volumes have remained relatively steady and while clearance rates have shown a softening, final results have been consistently in the high 60 per cent range since the first week of June. Across the two larger auction markets, Melbourne continues to show resilience to softening conditions relative to Sydney, with Melbourne’s clearance rate sitting in the mid-high 70 per cent range for another week (75.7 per cent), while Sydney’s preliminary auction clearance rate increased over the week (71.5 per cent). Last week Sydney recorded its lowest rate of clearance so far this year (65.4 per cent).
The combined capital city preliminary clearance rate was recorded at 70.7 per cent this week, up slightly from last week, when the final clearance rate was recorded at 69.9 per cent.
Auction clearance rates have seen a slight improvement across the combined capital cities over the month of July, with the final clearance rate over the last two weeks just falling short of the 70 per cent mark. Auction volumes were higher this week with 1,957 homes taken to auction across the combined capital cities, up from 1,748 last week, and higher than this time last year when 1,610 auctions were held. Perth and Tasmania were the only cities where auction volumes fell over the week.
There were 943 auctions held in Melbourne this week with a preliminary clearance rate of 77.2 per cent, increasing from a final clearance rate of 73.8 per cent last week across 833 auctions. Over the same week last year, Melbourne’s clearance rate was 75.3 per cent across 754 auctions. Of the 9 Melbourne sub-regions, 5 recorded clearance rates above 80.0 per cent, with the highest clearance recorded across the Mornington Peninsula, with preliminary results showing 87.2 per cent of the 39 results were successful, followed by the North West where 81.3 per cent of auctions cleared.
In Sydney, 704 properties were taken to auction this week with a preliminary clearance rate of 68.0 per cent. Last week, the final clearance rate for the city was 70.3 per cent across 625 auctions, after sitting below the 70 per cent mark for the previous 6 weeks, so it will be interesting to see what the final clearance rate is like on Thursday. One year ago, 509 Sydney homes were taken to auction and the clearance rate was 78.0 per cent. This week, the performance across Sydney’s individual sub regions was mixed. Across the South West region, where 47 of the 50 results have been reported so far, the preliminary clearance rate was 40.4 per cent, while across the Eastern suburbs (90.0 per cent) and Inner West (81.8 per cent) regions, the success rate of reported auctions was much higher.
The combined capital city preliminary clearance rate increased to 74.8 per cent this week, up from a revised final clearance rate of 69.4 per cent last week, while auction volumes increased week-on-week. There were 1,712 properties taken to auction this week, up from 1,627 last week, and higher than this time last year, when 1,329 auctions were held and a clearance rate of 67.9 per cent was recorded.
Based on the preliminary collection, all but one of the capital cities saw the clearance rate increase week-on-week. Melbourne’s auction market has continued to show some resilience to softer auction conditions, recording the highest preliminary clearance rate at 79.4 per cent, although this is likely to revise lower when the final auction results are released on the following Thursday. While Melbourne’s clearance rate has remained comfortably above 70 per cent since July last year, final auction results show Sydney’s auction clearance rate has been tracking below 70 per cent over the past six weeks, so it will be interesting to see if the preliminary clearance of 74.9 per cent is again revised below the 70 per cent mark.
The number of homes taken to auction across the capital cities has fallen for the 4th week in a row, with just 1,612 auctions held this week, down from 1,766 last week, although higher than this time last year when 1,391 properties went under the hammer.
The combined capital city preliminary clearance rate increased to 72.4 per cent this week, up from the final clearance rate of 68.4 per cent last week, although this will revise as more results are collected. The final clearance rate has nudged slightly higher over the last two weeks after reaching a year to date low of 66.5 per cent; it will be interesting to see if this is still the case on Thursday when the final figures are released.
Adelaide and Brisbane were the only cities to see a slight increase in auction volumes this week, while Melbourne had the highest number of auctions scheduled (753). In terms of preliminary clearance rates, Melbourne was the best performing city with 77.4 per cent of the 667 results recording a successful result, and although this result will revise lower as the final results are collected, it is likely to be stronger than what we have seen in Melbourne over the last month.
The combined capital city preliminary clearance rate increased to 70.7 per cent this week, up from 67.3 per cent last week, while auction volumes fell week-on-week. There were 1,751 properties taken to auction this week, down from 2,001 last week, although higher than this time last year, when 1,399 auctions were held and a clearance rate of 70.6 per cent was recorded.
Over the past 5 weeks, the final clearance rate across the combined capital cities has been sitting in the mid-high 60 per cent range and it is likely that this will be the case again on Thursday when our final results are published.
All but two of the capital cities saw the clearance rate increase week-on-week while Melbourne recorded the highest preliminary clearance rate at 73.9 per cent.
With dwelling values rising at a faster pace than household incomes, housing affordability has worsened over the first quarter of 2017. CoreLogic measures housing affordability across four measures and three of these four measures have seen affordability deteriorate over the quarter.
The four affordability measures that CoreLogic calculate are:
- Dwelling price to household income ratio – essentially how many years of gross annual household income are required to purchase a property outright
- Years to save a deposit – how many years of gross annual household income are required for a 20% deposit
- Serviceability – calculating mortgage repayments on an 80% loan to value ratio (LVR) mortgage utilising the standard variable mortgage rate and a 25 year mortgage, what proportion of gross annual household income is required to service a mortgage
- Dwelling rent to household income – the proportion of gross annual household income required to pay the rent
The measures we look at utilise median household incomes which have been modeled by the Australian National University (ANU).
As at March 2017, the national price to income ratio was recorded at 7.3 compared to 7.2 a year earlier, 6.4 five years earlier and 6.1 a decade ago. Looking at houses and units, the ratios were recorded at 7.4 and 6.7 respectively at March 2017.
It would have taken 1.5 years of gross annual household income for a deposit nationally at the end of the March 2017 quarter. This is compared to 1.4 years a year earlier, 1.3 years five years ago and 1.2 years a decade ago. If saving for a house it would take 1.5 years of the median household income for a deposit compared to 1.3 years of income for a unit.
The calculation of the proportion of household income required to service a mortgage is very sensitive to mortgage rates. At the end of March 2017, the discounted variable mortgage rate for owner occupiers was 4.55% and a mortgage required 38.9% of a household’s income. A year earlier mortgage rates were 4.85% and the mortgage used 39.6% of the household income. Five years ago, mortgage rates were 6.7% and a decade ago they were 7.45% and households required 42.2% and 42.8% of their household income respectively to service a mortgage. Further to this you can see that the proportion of household income required to service a mortgage peaked at 51.0% in June 2008 when mortgage rates were 8.85%. Houses currently require 39.39% of a household’s income to service a mortgage compared to units requiring 36.0%.
The final affordability measure looks at the alternative to taking out a mortgage, renting, looking at the rent to income ratio. The rent to income ratio has been more stable compared with measures related to purchasing a home or servicing a mortgage, as it is more limited by growth in household incomes. In March 2017, the ratio was recorded at 29.6% compared to 30.4% a year earlier, 29.1% five years earlier and 25.8% a decade ago. At the end of March 2017 the ratio was recorded at 29.6% for houses and units.
The above table highlights each of the four housing affordability measures across the Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA) regions as at March 2017. Capital cities are generally more expensive across all measures than regional markets despite household incomes generally being higher in capital cities. Sydney is the least affordable housing market across most measures. Sydney’s price to income ratio is significantly higher than all other regions analysed. Furthermore, the serviceability calculation shows that despite mortgage rates being at close to historic low levels, a Sydney property owner is utilising 45% of their household income to service their mortgage.
This data provides a snapshot of how housing affordability is tracking across the country, and it highlights how in Sydney and Melbourne in particular it is deteriorating as dwelling values have risen over recent years. Another important point to note is that lower mortgage rates make servicing debt easier however, it doesn’t make it easier to overcome the deposit hurdle, particularly given fairly sluggish household income growth over recent years. The data also suggests that servicing a mortgage remains more expensive than paying for rental accommodation although the gap has narrowed as interest rates have fallen.
It is important to look at a range of housing affordability measures and analyse them over time to get a true understanding of the housing affordability challenges. Over recent years affordability on a price to income and saving for a deposit basis has deteriorated in Sydney and Melbourne however it is relatively unchanged or slightly improved in most other capital cities. On the other hand, as mortgage rates have fallen servicing a mortgage has required a lower proportion of household income which in turn has allowed some owners to reinvest or increase their spending elsewhere.
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 combined capital city preliminary clearance rate increased to 70.3 per cent this week, up from last week, when the final results saw the clearance rate fall to 66.5 per cent, the lowest clearance rate since June 2016. Auction clearance rates have been trending lower since reaching a peak at the end of February 2017 when the combined capitals clearance was recorded at 78.4%.
Considering the easing trend in clearance rates, as well as the fact that preliminary rates generally revise lower as more results flow through, it will be interesting to see how this week’s preliminary result compares with the final clearance rate which will be published on Thursday. Auction volumes were lower this week with 1,984 homes taken to auction across the combined capital cities, down from 2,355 last week however significantly higher than this time last year when auction volumes were quieter due to the Federal Election when only 841 homes were taken to auction. Melbourne had the highest number of auctions this week, with 866 properties going to market, followed closely by Sydney with 832 homes going under the hammer.