Sydney again leads home value growth in Australian capital cities

Property values in Australian capital cities increased 0.3% in August with Sydney seeing the highest growth at 1.1% compared with the previous month.

The latest home value index from CoreLogic RP Data also shows that there were considerable variations in the performance of the housing market from city to city.

Values increased by 0/7% in Adelaide and by 0.3% in Darwin but flat month on month in Melbourne and Brisbane. The remaining capital cities recorded a month on month fall in values.

While the August results indicate a slowdown in the rate of appreciation in dwelling values, the quarterly figures highlight just how strong the housing market has been over the past three months with combined capital city dwelling values 5.3% higher over the three months to the end of August.

Values across Melbourne were 8% higher over the rolling quarter, and Sydney values were up 7.4%. CoreLogic RP Data head of research, Tim Lawless, said that both cities have seen dwelling values trend substantially higher than other capitals, where the third highest growth rate over the three month period was Brisbane, which showed an increase in values of 2.2%

While the three largest capital cities, together with Hobart, have all recorded growth in dwelling values over the past three months, half the nation’s capital cities have recorded a fall in values.

Darwin recorded the most substantial decline in values with a fall of 3.2% over the three month period, while Perth values were down by 1.5%, Canberra values were 0.8% lower and Adelaide values lower by 0.1%.

With the lower month on month growth rate, the annual rate of appreciation also slipped to 10.2% per annum, from 11.1% last month. According to Lawless, the annual rate of growth highlights how strong Sydney housing market conditions have been.

Sydney dwelling values are 17.6% over the past year, and since the beginning of 2009, Australia’s largest capital city housing market has recorded a cumulative capital gain of 76%. Using the median house price from January 2009 as a base, the typical Sydney home owner has seen the value of their home increase by approximately $309,000 since the beginning of 2009.

The only cities where dwelling values declined over the past 12 months have been Darwin with a fall of 4.6%, Perth down 1.8% and Canberra down 0.9%.

‘Darwin and Perth have certainly felt the brunt of the downturn in resources investment while conditions in Canberra have been improving but remain volatile. We expect the softer housing market conditions in Perth and Darwin are likely to persist over the coming year,’ Lawless explained.

Unit values have recently shown a higher rate of growth city house and unit values than detached houses, with values rising 0.8% over the month compared with a 0.3% rise in house values. The rolling quarterly rate of growth was also higher for units at 6.7% compared with 5.1% across the detached sector.

Lawless pointed out that it has generally been the case throughout this cycle, and previous cycles, that house values have risen at a faster rate than unit values. ‘However, over the past three months across every capital city except Melbourne and Brisbane, it has been the apartment sector that has shown the stronger growth result,’ he said.

‘This result comes at a time when apartment supply has ramped up substantially more than detached housing supply. To see such a broad-based over performance of units relative to houses, provides some comfort for developers and purchasers that higher density stock values are appreciating,’ he explained.

‘Sub-markets where supply levels are heightened, or the pipeline of apartment supply is substantial, should still be viewed with some caution,’ he added.

The index data also shows that growth in weekly rental rates shifted to a new record low for annual growth over the month of August. Across the combined capital cities, the median weekly rental rate rose by just 0.7% in the last 12 months with house rents up 0.5% and unit rents up 1.6%.

Since May 2013, dwelling values have risen at a faster pace than weekly rents. ‘The result of the disparity between dwelling values and dwelling rents has been a consistent downwards trend in gross rental yields,’ Lawless said.

Gross yields are at record lows in both Sydney and Melbourne. A typical dwelling is attracting a gross yield of just 3.3% and 3.1% respectively across Australia’s two largest cities. Lawless said that the low yield scenario has largely been overlooked by investors who appear to be more focused on chasing future anticipated capital gains rather than aiming for cash flow.

‘While the rate of capital gains slowed last month, today’s results are only one month worth of data. Therefore, we should be cautious about interpreting this as a slowdown in the overall trend of value growth. In fact, the quarterly and annual trend of capital gain remains high in Sydney and Melbourne,’ Lawless said.

‘The Spring season will provide a timely litmus test for the housing market given it’s a time when listing numbers normally increase materially. It will be important to monitor whether buyer demand keeps pace with the additional number of homes being advertised for sale,’ he added.

Currently, new listings are 5.5% higher compared with the same time last year across the capital cities, led by a 16% rise in newly advertised properties in Sydney and a 10% rise in Melbourne. According to Lawless, this is indicative that the spring listing trend is already accelerating as vendors look to take advantage of the strong selling conditions.