Rate of house price falls seem to be easing in Australian cities

Falling property prices eased slightly in key cities in Australia at the beginning of 2019 but six of the eight capitals and four of the seven rest of state markets saw a decline in January, the latest index shows.

Overall prices fell nationally by 0.7% in February, taking the cumulative decline to 6.8% since values peaked in October 2017, according to the CoreLogic index. Prices also fell by 2.7% on a quarterly basis and by 6.3% year on year.

Sydney has seen the steepest fall year on year with prices down by 10.4% to $789,339, followed by Melbourne down 9.1% to $629,457. Quarter on quarter prices were down 4.1% in both cities and month on month down 1% in both.

The next weakest markets are Perth and Darwin. In Perth prices were down 6.9% year on year, down 3.5% quarter on quarter and down 1.5% on a monthly basis to $438,952. In Darwin they fell by 5.3%, 5.1% and 1.7% to $397,867.

The market has been steady for a year in Adelaide with prices unchanged month on month at $432,946, down just 0.1% on a quarterly basis and up 1% compared with February 2018.

Although prices have fallen in Brisbane, this is not as much as other cities, down 0.3% month on month, down 0.7% quarter on quarter and down 0.5% year on year to $490,635.

The market in Canberra has slowed. Although prices were up 3.4% year on year to $594,351, they were flat quarter on quarter and fell by 0.2% month on month.

The strongest market is Hobart where prices have increased by 7.2% month on month to $457,186, up 1.1% quarter on quarter and up by 0.8% month on month.

The index also shows that national prices have returned to levels last seen in September 2016, and have fallen over 14 of the last 16 months but they are 18% higher than they were five years ago, highlighting that most home owners remain in a strong equity position.

‘he national rate of decline eased relative to January and December, when dwelling values were down by around 1%, however the February results remain overall weak, with the geographic scope of negative conditions broadening,’ said CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless.

‘The fact that we are seeing weakening housing market conditions across regions where home values were previously rising at a sustainable pace and economic conditions are relatively healthy is a sign that tighter credit conditions are having a broad dampening effect on buyer activity,’ he added.

The CoreLogic estimates of national settled sales activity were down 12.8% year on year, with steeper falls in settled sales activity recorded in Sydney with a fall of 20.6% and in Melbourne with a fall of 22.1%.

Regional housing market values are generally holding firmer than capital city markets, with dwelling values down 1.4% over the past 12 months compared with a 7.6% fall in capital city dwelling values.