Nick Hart bought four homes in Adelaide in less than two years, and was getting ready to make an offer for a fifth, when a regulator-inspired move to cool the sizzling Australian property market spoiled his plans.
“I went to my bank for my next home loan and their response was eligibility assessments have changed, and they can’t lend more to me just yet,” said the 37-year-old sales manager at a software services firm. Hart said the bank told him his existing loans, equivalent to 93 percent of the value of his A$1.8 million ($1.3 million) properties, need to be reduced before he can borrow any more.
Last month, Australian banks raised interest rates for property investors and introduced tougher loan-to-value standards in response to a move by regulators to rein in the riskier corners of the country’s house price boom. With interest rates stuck at record lows due to the slowdown in the wider economy, the central bank and the Australian banking regulator have been grappling with ways to prevent a property price bubble.
There are signs that the market may be cooling. Inquiries from property investors dropped by a quarter last month, said Paul Bevan, a Melbourne-based mortgage broker. Price gains in Sydney, the city which has seen the fastest increases, are expected to ease to about a third of the annual pace of 18 percent seen in the year to July 31, according to a Bloomberg survey of six market analysts.
“All ingredients are in place now to spook the Sydney house-price momentum,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. “It is better to cool the market rather than wait for the bubble to burst.”
Low mortgage rates and a flood of Chinese investment have propelled prices 29 percent higher across Australia in the past three years, according to research firm CoreLogic Inc. Prices in Sydney have jumped 46 percent over the same period.
Last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia called the housing market unbalanced, and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority urged banks to limit the growth in investor home loans, which make up a record 53 percent of all mortgages, according to latest government figures.
The turning point came last month, when the banking regulator increased the capital that the banks need to hold against potential mortgage losses to an average of 25 percent, from 17 percent previously. That will force the four largest lenders to add A$12 billion in equity in a year, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Inc. and Morgan Stanley.
In response, banks introduced a number of steps to curb borrowing for investment. They reduced the maximum loan amount they will lend relative to the value of a home, increased the interest rate used to assess borrowers’ ability to repay, and reduced the sources of income they would accept in investor borrowing applications.
Last month, the three biggest lenders — Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp. — increased home-loan rates for landlords by as much as much 30 basis points. For the first time since 1997, investors pay more than owner-occupiers on mortgages from those banks.
ANZ and National Australia Bank Ltd., the fourth-largest lender by market value, have capped the loan-to-value ratio at 90 percent, down from as much as 95 percent.
Investors are “still keen” to enter the property market but they would find it difficult to meet the new loan-to-value rules, said Martin North, principal at Sydney-based Digital Finance Analytics, citing a rolling survey of 26,000 households across the country on financial and property expectations.
“While I expect things to slow down through this year and into the next, a price collapse is unlikely when rates are still low,” North said.
Property investor Hart says homes are still his safest bet though he acknowledges he wouldn’t be able to expand his portfolio as fast as he had expected.
“By next year, I’m sure the value of my properties will rise further and I’d be able to pay down some of my mortgage,” he said. “Once that’s done, I can go to my bank for the next one.”
The southeast Queensland suburbs where vendors are discounting their sale prices
The southeast Queensland suburbs where vendors are discounting their sale price by the largest percentages have been revealed.
New data analysis by Domain looked at the average rate of vendor discounting on properties in suburbs throughout Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast over the six months to March this year and found some areas were discounting by as much as 12 per cent.
Houses at Carindale, Clontarf, Redcliffe and Rochedale South topped out the list of Greater Brisbane suburbs with the highest percentage of vendors discounting their asking price, while Chermside, New Farm, Redcliffe and South Brisbane had the highest rate of discounting for units.
On the Gold Coast, houses at Broadbeach Waters and Hope Island both recorded double-digit average vendor discounting, while units at Main Beach and Southport had the highest rate of discounting.
Maroochydore and Tewantin headed up the Sunshine Coast houses that were being the discounted by the highest percentage.
Domain economist Trent Wiltshire said the rate of discounting was another market indicator that could help assess conditions in certain suburbs.
The data was compiled using a minimum of 30 observations and did not include properties that sold via auction or without a listed price.
“This can be a bit more timely than price data,” he said. “But it is only an average figure and, while the average or median is the simplest way to look at a suburb, it doesn’t tell the full story.”
Will Torres of Torres Property said overall the housing market in Carindale was performing well but that the average discounting rate was likely brought down by a specific price point.
Carindale’s median house price is $879,750, a rise of 1.1 per cent over the year to March.
“I’d say the market that is being affected at the moment is that mid-$1 million price range,” he said.
“Rewind to six months ago I was selling houses in this price range in three weeks — now I’m struggling to get numbers in the door. That’s where the discounting will be, around that $1.5 million range and that’s why the Carindale percentage is that high.
“Anything under that price point is still performing really well and selling well. Days on market have stretched but the buyers and the demand is overall still there.”
Broadbeach Waters recorded the highest rate of vendor discounting, by up to 12 per cent. Jordan Williams of JW Prestige said that figure had likely been increased by houses in the $2 million to $3 million range, which were sometimes overpriced.
“If you’re 10 per cent over the odds you won’t get a result, you won’t get a deal — that’s why you’re seeing that average discount for Broadbeach Waters,” he said.
“So this figure doesn’t mean the market has dropped here, it means some properties were overpriced. I sold a house for $4.5 million where the owners originally were asking $4.7 million. That’s a massive discount.
“But it started out that high because the owners said they wanted to give it a go, test the waters. There’s a million different scenarios for why people discount their properties.”
At Hope Island, where the average vendor discount is 10.3 per cent, agent Warren Hickey is selling a four-bedroom, two-bathroom contemporary home on Virginia Avenue, which is listed for offers over $995,000 and advertised as a huge price reduction.
However, he said the listing was not representative of the local market.
“On average we’d sell a property a week in Hope Island. I would say if you look back at everything we’ve sold in the past few years, we’ve probably only advertised one as having a price reduction and this is it. It’s the exception,” he said.
On the Sunshine Coast, where Maroochydore recorded an average discount on houses of 7.5 per cent, local Century 21 agent Damien Said said a lot of the properties in higher demand were now auctioned.
“That needs to be noted — those properties are automatically excluded from the data,” he said.
“If anyone in Maroochydore is discounting, I’d say it’s more of a reflection of a few properties that came on the market with unrealistic expectations.
“Generally, we’re finding that when properties do come on the market, as long as the price is realistic, our days on market are reducing. The coast market is still quite active.”
The booming property hotspots which have defied the housing downturn – and it’s good news for homeowners living in Queensland
Coastal and regional hotspots are bucking the housing market downturn with property prices at record highs.
As the market in Sydney and Melbourne continues to weaken, it’s a different story in regions such as Hobart, Canberra and Queensland’s Gold and Sunshine coasts.
The regions dominate in the 11 suburbs across Australia identified as the most resilient areas, according to CoreLogic data.
New figures released this month revealed national housing values have plummeted 7.2 per cent, the largest annual fall since the 12 months ending February 2009 during the global financial crisis.
But Core Logic head of research Tim Lawless says homeowners in weak markets are unlocking significant equity, helping to boost prices in coastal areas.
‘Baby boomers are retiring, having gone through a number of property cycles and have the equity to fund a lifestyle purchase,’ he told The Australian.
‘The money goes further in these markets than in Sydney and Melbourne.’
So, where are Australia’s most resilient areas?
The Sunshine Coast, Queensland
The latest figures are good news for those looking to sell on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The median housing price in Sunshine Beach have soared 5.3 per cent in the last 12 months to almost $1.16million and up 26.6 per cent in the last five years.
The suburb was followed closely by Noosa Heads ($1.11 million) with a 2.9 per cent rise, where prices have jumped 29.5 per cent in five years.
In nearby Diddillibah-Rosemount, prices have jumped 16 per cent in the last five years to $747,812, 1.8 per cent rise in the last 12 months.
Renowned as a popular tourist mecca and for its laidback lifestyle, the Sunshine Coast is a growing region which attracts more than 3.2 million visitors a year and is Queensland’s third most populated area.
Further south of the Sunshine Coast, the median price in the Brisbane suburb of Windsor rose by 6.04 per cent to $902,000 while on the Gold Coast, the coastal suburb of Palm Beach now stands at $872,400, up 2.8 per cent and 42.8 per cent over five years.
Many parts of the nation’s capital are also bucking the downturn trend, according to CoreLogic.
Experts have hailed Canberra the strongest real estate economy out of all of the capital cities.
The median price in Garran has skyrocketed by 10.7 per cent to just over $1million in the last 12 months and 41.9 per cent over five years.
There were even higher rises in Lyons (14.1 per cent to $769,518) and Cook (17.4 per cent to $749,743).
A town not far from Canberra that also made the list was Yass in the NSW southern tablelands, where the median property price jumped by 4.8 per cent to $760,000, where prices have soared by a third within five years.
Hobart, Tasmania and West Beach, South Australia
2018 was a record year for real estate sales in the Apple Aisle, known for its relaxed lifestyle, affordability and cooler climate.
There were 11,400 property transactions worth a record $4 billion last year, according to Real Estate Institute of Tasmania data.
In Hobart, the average property price has risen 6.5 per cent to $809,300, a 39.3 per cent within five years.
Also in Australia’s southern states bucking the trend is Adelaide seaside suburb of West Beach, where the average price is now over $800,000 after a 4.4 per cent rise and 27.3 per cent change over five years.
At the other end of the scale, 17 of the 20 biggest price drops for the year were in Sydney’s mid-priced suburbs such as Epping, where prices have plummeted by almost a third in the last 12 months, The Australian reported.
Mr Lawless said there are signs that the worst of the housing market conditions are now over.
‘Values are still broadly declining, however the pace of decline has moderated since December last year and there are some tentative signs that credit flows have improved, albeit from a low base,’ he said earlier this month.
‘The prospect for lower interest rates is another factor that could support an improvement in housing market activity later this year.’
Hot property: Dated dress circle Noosa home sells at auction
A WATERFRONT home in need of an upgrade in one of Noosa’s most prestigious streets has sold under-the-hammer for $5.67m.
A WATERFRONT home in need of an upgrade in one of Noosa’s most prestigious streets has sold under-the-hammer for $5.67 million, with agents claiming the coastal hot spot is proving immune to the pre-election uncertainty plaguing the property market.
The four-bedroom house at 49 Witta Circle was sold at auction after a bidding war between four parties.
The result shows the Noosa prestige market is “rock solid”, according to marketing agent Eric Seetoo of Tom Offermann Real Estate.
“The … home was an oldie, but it occupies one of the most desirable locations on the waterfront near Hastings Street,” Mr Seetoo said.
“We found four bidders, three of whom were present, and another was on the phone from overseas, each with well over $5 million to spend.
“As you can imagine, I am busy finding properties for the underbidders.”
Agency principal Tom Offermann said he believed it was the highest Queensland house sale under-the-hammer so far in 2019.
“Witta Circle is one of those ‘can’t go wrong locations’,” Mr Offermann said.
“It’s on the water, picturesque, and an easy walk from Hastings Street and the beach.
“The capital growth has been over 15 per cent on average for the past 40 years — hard to beat.”
Mr Offermann said he was still finding demand strong, especially at the luxury end, where there was a critical shortage of stock.
Tom Offermann Real Estate recently sold a waterfront house at 55 Wyuna Drive, Noosaville, for $4.75 million and 27 Mossman Ct, Noosa Heads, for $5.75 million.
And an apartment in the La Mer complex on Hastings Street changed hands last month for a whopping $6.1 million.
“Property markets usually slow down during an election, but not this time in Noosa,” he said.
“The traditional slowdown isn’t apparent this time, with most clients adopting a wait and see attitude.
“Some are even predicting a post election rush into investment property before any negative gearing or capital gains tax changes are introduced.”
Adrian Reed of Reed & Co has just listed a five-bedroom, five-bathroom mansion at 54 Noosa Parade with a price guide in the late $7 million to early $8 million range.
Given the property’s location, river views and proximity to Hastings Street, Mr Reed is expecting it to be one of the most significant sales of the year.
Originally published as Dated Noosa home fetches big $
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