Prices Slowly Emerging

By Phillip Elmowy

AFTER almost two years of gloom, house prices in Sydney and Melbourne are showing some signs of improvement and real estate agents hope lower interest rates will accelerate the trend.

Median house prices were up marginally across the country in the December quarter for the first time since late 2010, according to data from Australian Property Monitors.
While the figures indicate tentative signs of a recovery, it is too early to tell if the nation’s housing downturn has finally been halted.

In the three months to December, prices remained stable or rose in Sydney and Melbourne, with the latter’s prices up 1.1 per cent on the previous quarter, APM said.

Values in other capital cities, apart from Adelaide and Hobart, fell over the same period.
“The small growth in the national median house prices was due to an increase in buyer activity in the bottom end of the market in Sydney and, by contrast, the top end of the market in Melbourne,” APM’s senior economist, Dr Andrew Wilson, said.

”[This year] will provide mixed outcomes for housing markets with some capital cities set to revive while others will remain flat.”

Property listings were down last year but consumers were more confident following the rate cuts, the chief executive of Stockdale & Leggo, Peter Thomas, said. The strong prospect of further rate cuts would help vendors, he said.

The year-end boost followed a 12-month rout where prices declined year-on-year in all of Australia’s capitals, with Brisbane’s weary home owners suffering the biggest fall of 7.5 per cent, APM’s figures show.

Even in Sydney, the country’s most resilient market, prices fell over the year by 1.3 per cent, while the median price dropped 3.1 per cent in Melbourne, 3.5 per cent in Canberra and 5.2 per cent in Perth to December. But home owners were more likely to see a levelling out of prices or even small gains this year, due to the rate cuts, HSBC’s chief economist, Paul Bloxham, said.

Source Sydney Morning Herald

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