09 Jun 2022

How the economy could be holding housing 'hostage'

Westpac economists believe the future of the housing market will effectively become 'hostage' to wider economic outcomes.

Housing sentiment is pointing to a decline in turnover throughout the first half of this year, showing a 'clearer' sign the housing market is slowing down, according to Westpac's February 2022 Housing Pulse.

With mortgage rates already rising and a RBA cash rate hike forecast for 2022 , a housing 'correction' is forecast for 2023 and 2024.

Calling the current market the 'calm before the storm', Westpac economists said that the changed rate view - influenced by inflation and labour market challenges - is expected to flow through to all of Australia's property markets. 

Another factor to weigh on property markets is 'deteriorating' affordability, causing buyer sentiment to take a hit, but interest rate considerations have 'yet to really impact'.

Property turnover showed a 'very strong' bounce back from the Delta lockdowns, but hit a 'mild set-back' from the Omicron outbreak late last year.

Nationally, prices have lifted 2.5% since November 2021 - another stepdown from the peak of 7.1% in May 2021 - but annual gains remain 'impressive' at 21.1%. 

The Housing Pulse report shows housing sentiment has been mostly unaffected - except for mild and brief confidence lost around jobs - with the dominant themes continuing to be around high and rising house prices and stretched affordability. 

The 'shock' of a rate rise will impact all markets over the next few years according to Westpac economists.

They said housing become 'hostage' to the economy with prospects resting heavily on how successfully policy makers - particularly the Reserve Bank of Australia - bring Australia through these 'looming' challenges.

Which states are most sensitive to interest rate rises?

Westpac economists said that state trends are showing 'further divergence', with different states falling into three distinct groups - most sensitive, less sensitive, and least sensitive to affordability pressures and higher mortgage rates.

They labelled NSW and Victoria as most sensitive, with lower property turnover, elevated rental vacancy rates in the cities, and lack of immigration weighing heavily.

WA and Tasmania are 'less sensitive', bouyed by slightly better affordability than the more sensitive states, fewer covid impacts, and a 'tight' supply-demand balance with lower vacancy rates.

SA and Queensland are labelled as least sensitive, with plenty of price momentum and a 'super tight' supply-demand ratio, and high turnover.

In Brisbane, dwelling prices increased just under 30% over the past year, with December showing a "rollicking" 8.5% gain.

Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered. Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site. Savings.com.au, yourmortgage.com.au, yourinvestmentpropertymag.com.au, and Performance Drive are part of the Savings Media group. In the interests of full disclosure, the Savings Media Group are associated with the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings Media Group manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please visit the web site links at the bottom of this page.

SOURCE: https://www.savings.com.au/news/westpac-housing-pulse-february-2022

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