28 Apr Is Melbourne the top Aussie market? + Lessons from WA + Qld results are overshadowed
As you will hear today, there is no one property market in Australia and that is being highlighted as we continue to look at the various markets that make up the country. That in fact is the first point Michael Yardney makes when we ask him about Victoria. Interesting to note that while we all talk about the big gains out of Sydney, you might be surprised to hear what Michael says about the performance of the Melbourne market.
Next we go to Western Australia where Damien Collins says the market there continues to suffer from the downturn in mining and the over building for first home buyers. Lots of lessons coming from that part of the country.
We visit beautiful pristine Tasmania with its unofficial Ambassador John Lindeman. John passionately believes in the apple isle and it appears from the figures he shares with us that he is not the only one.
Cameron Kusher from Core Logic RP Data gives us the national overview this week and he points to a slowing in the rate of national capital growth and says that while more people are bringing their properties onto the market they are not selling and that is resulting in more choice for buyers.
One of the big improvers tipped for this year is Queensland and Shannon Davis gives us his view on the outlook there. He points out that while the Queensland market overall has had a solid year, it is sometimes compared to Sydney and Melbourne, where the growth has been spectacular and the improvement is discounted.
Bernard Hickey joins us for the first look at the New Zealand market which is going gangbusters and he explains why that is the case.
Kevin: First up on the show, let’s have a look at one of the bigger markets around Australia. Sydney and Melbourne, of course, have been recognized as the two big winners going forward, and we’ll have a look at the Victorian market now. Joining me to have an overview of that, Michael Yardney from Metropole Property Strategists.
Michael, I know you work all over Australia, but for the sake of this chat, can we talk purely about the Victorian market?
Michael: Of course, we can, Kevin.
Kevin: What is your overview of Victoria, and how the property market is faring there?
Michael: Let’s be clear. There is not one Victorian property market. When people talk about Victoria, they generally mean Melbourne. Even within Melbourne, it’s very much a fragmented market. But Melbourne has won the two-horse race between Sydney and Melbourne over the last couple of years with now last year, the last 12 months, having a 9.8% overall capital growth, which means certain areas have done particularly nicely and others haven’t as strong.
Looking even over the last ten years, the average dwelling price has changed 6.9% in Melbourne, which is the highest growth over the last decade compared to Sydney, which only grew at 5.9%, Darwin 5.6%, and the overall state capitals at 5.4%, so Melbourne has been the clear winner.
Kevin: What’s impacting the market there right now, both positively and negatively?
Michael: The big thing that has impacted the Melbourne property market that has kept it growing is our economy and jobs creation. Kevin, we didn’t have the ups and downs of the other states, so we didn’t get the mining boom and mining bust mentality. What we did do was slowly but surely, change from a manufacturing state to a services industry state with finance, health, and IT jobs, which were good-paying jobs.
People came for the jobs. Wages growth in the service industries allowed people to be able to spend more, they had high disposable income, and they wanted to live in the city, and more of them are coming here, so strong population growth and strong jobs growth pushing up values. Then it led investors to hop onto the bandwagon of capital growth, as well, so it was a multitude of factors.
Kevin: How would you describe investor sentiment in that area now, Michael?
Michael: Interestingly, at our offices at Metropole, we’re seeing more investors wanting to invest in Melbourne than we have for a long, long time. At the end of last year, they were a little bit cautious, a bit nervous with the scares about APRA. Earlier this year, there were some concerns about negative gearing. I think they’re recognizing that we are not going to grow as well in the next couple of years as we did the last couple of years, but still, there is good certain long-term growth if you buy the right property – strong investor sentiment, Kevin.
Kevin: What are the areas that you’d avoid, and why?
Michael: The big areas to avoid are the inner city and off-the-plan property markets. We’re building too many. Over the last few years, we’ve built three times the average number of properties we’ve built in the past, and it’s been fueled by investors speculating – not really investing – hoping that property values would go up, and therefore, buying off-the-plan and overseas investors.
But now there is about 14% of all of the properties of the CBD sitting vacant, a very significant proportion of all of the properties being underpinned by investors, not owner-occupiers, and they’re sometimes a bit fickle. Values are dropping. Rents are not going up. There will be maybe a decade when there will be no capital growth or rental growth. I’d be avoiding those areas.
The other areas I’d avoid are the newer states. We’re building a few too many houses for first-home buyers, and some investors are being lured to buy in these outer suburbs. They won’t get capital growth there, either.
Kevin: Going back on something you just said, that figure you said about the number of apartments that are sitting vacant, what was that number again?
Michael: According to BIS Shrapnel, 14% of properties in Melbourne’s CBD are sitting vacant, and most of those are not on the rental pool. In other words, the rental vacancy rate is only 3.5%. It’s just overseas investors have locked them up, not turned on the lights or electricity, and are leaving it there – land-banking, so to speak.
Kevin: Wow. That’s a major concern.
Michael: It could be, but remember, their motives are different to yours and mine as investors. What they’re doing is just putting their money somewhere secure. I believe their mentality is “This is a new apartment.” They like the concept of new. Keeping it new and pristine, in their mind, adds value, keeps its value. I’m not sure that’s true, though.
Kevin: Yes, it’s going to skew the vacancy figures, because we’re looking at a balanced market being around 6%, but if you put that pool in there, you’d go well above 6%, wouldn’t you?
Michael: Sure, but they’re actually not in the letting pool. They’re just lock and leave. People are leaving them alone.
Having said that, the vacancy rate in the CBD and inner-city areas is high. In general, in Melbourne, the vacancy rate has been comfortable. What we’re noticing is there are lots more people turning up to open for inspections.
Rent growth has been very poor, but with the current vacancy rate according to SQM Research at around 2%, it’s actually suggesting that we’re going to lead into a period of higher rental growth as there are more people starting to look for properties and not as many around. But that’s overall in Melbourne; there are some pockets, as I’ve already said, that I’d definitely be steering clear of because the vacancy rates are much too high.
Kevin: Looking ahead – and I want a very quick answer, if I may – without notice, rate out of ten, ten being the highest, one being the lowest, how would you rate Melbourne’s future growth potential?
Michael: In 2016, it’s going to be number one in that it will be the fastest growing capital city market with an overall capital growth probably in the order of 5%, maybe even 6%. It’s not staggering, but it’s definitely going to end the year better than it started.
Michael: My pleasure, Kevin.
Kevin: One of the markets in Australia that is suffering a little bit is Western Australia. Let’s take a visit there now with Damien Collins from Momentum Wealth and find out exactly what is happening.
Damien, thanks for joining us in the show.
Damien: Pleasure, Kevin.
Kevin: Now, we have heard that your state, South Australia, and Northern Territory are not faring all that well, but tell us about Western Australia.
Damien: Kevin, we’re still suffering from the downturn in the mining sector and also the over-building that happened with the first-home owners grant. As everyone would know, obviously, the mining sector has had a downturn, and that certainly affected job security and the wages paid, so people are less confident, and that’s flowing through into real estate transactions.
The other big thing has been the first-home-owners grant, a lot of people went and built, so that’s [0:51 inaudible] tenants and so our vacancy rate has gone up to about 6%, so rents have come back because of that. Coupled with the other factor that the interstate and overseas migration has slowed down quite a bit.
Look, we’re definitely in an oversupplied territory, not substantially. We’re at about 15,000 properties for sale; a balanced market is about 13,000. The rental vacancy rate is 6%, but having said that, 94% of properties are leased.
Overall, the Pearth market is a bit soft, but what we’ve noticed in the last couple of months is that it seems to be bottoming out, if it hasn’t bottomed already, so expect we won’t see any runaway market this year, but certainly we’re at the bottom or close to it anyway.
Kevin: What’s the sentiment amongst investors right now?
Damien: Still very cautious. Certainly, we have seen some east-coast investors come into our market and have appointed us as buyers agents, so they’re, I guess, seeing from a bit further away, seeing the longer-term prospects, not looking at just what’s happening short term in the market. But local investors are still cautious. There is activity but the headline in the press is the high vacancy rate, rent reductions, etc. Confidence is pretty low, so investors are quite thin on the ground overall generally.
Kevin: What about developers? Are they pretty nervous about the market?
Damien: Developers are bringing stock to market. Again, with the lack of confidence, they’re finding that people aren’t easily committing to off-the-plan purchases because, again, people think prices may not be much more when they settle in two years. Developers are struggling, and anyone bringing the properties to market at the moment is having a hard time getting them away.
Some projects are going better than others, but there’s still activity for development sites. We do buy development sites for clients, and we find that we are often competing because people are looking at projects they buy now and they wouldn’t bring them to market for at least 12 months and the likelihood is in 12 months when they are to market, with all of the approvals and everything else in place, that the market will be a little bit better.
Kevin: What sort of projects are popular or most popular? What size of development are you looking at?
Damien: Generally, the most popular ones are more the boutique level, so anywhere from your 10- to 40-apartment in the suburban areas, in the areas near the amenities, so near the train stations, the café districts, in close within that sort of 10 K radius of the city, and where there’s not a lot of other competition and where it blends in well with its surroundings. That’s what people are looking to buy, and certainly, from a rental proposition point of view, they’re the ones that people like to get.
Now, we certainly do have a lot of development in around the CBD area, but as you’ve seen with Brisbane at the moment, as we’ve seen in the past in Melbourne, at the moment, and particularly around that Docklands/Southbank area, it is a lot riskier because of the big risk of significant oversupply when there’s lots of 30-story buildings going up. So generally, most investors who are savvy are targeting the more boutique projects where they’re keeping away from the big areas of oversupply.
Kevin: Damien, where’s the best buying right now in the capital, in Perth itself?
Damien: A couple of areas that we like, Kevin, are around South Lake, which is on the south side of the river. It’s near Bibra Lake. It’s an area that’s about 18 K south, but it is near the freeway and the train line. It’s generally been considering a lower socioeconomic area. The prices are in the $400,000s for a house, but it’s an area that’s getting rezoning happening that we’re seeing in the market, people looking to redevelop in the area.
And as Perth grows… Perth is likely to grow from 2 million now to anywhere between 4 million and 5 million over the next 35 years, so areas like with the amenity there will rejuvenate. It won’t go to a premium suburb, but we expect it’ll move from that lower socioeconomic into something more middle class, and that re-rating we expect would see some good, solid long-term capital growth in an area like that.
We certainly still are buying in Forrestfield with the train line. The market there has come back a little bit, but certainly the longer-term prospects, once that train station’s in place and that whole catchment area in the foothills and into the hills now has a train line, that’ll certainly increase the value of properties around that. We’ve seen in Melbourne and Sydney that properties close to train stations do increase in value quite substantially.
Kevin: Before I let you go, Damien, what about the regions?
Damien: We’re seeing, Kevin, the Pilbara and the mining towns up north suffering significantly. Prices are down nearly 50% in Karratha, 30% in Port Hedland, and rents are down more than half. It’s pretty tough up there. In the southwest, the market’s doing okay in Bunbury/Busselton areas, but certainly most people focus in WA on the mining areas, and they’ve come back a long way, but it’s going to be a long time, I think, before they recover.
Kevin: Wonderful insight there, Damien. Damien Collins from Momentum Wealth in Western Australia. That’s the wrap on WA.
Damien, thanks for your time.
Damien: Thanks, Kevin.
Kevin: I’m pretty excited about talking to John Lindeman because John is going to give us a bit of an overview on the Tasmanian market. The reason I’m excited – apart from John’s a lovely guy and I like talking to him – is the Tasmanian market looks like it might be turning. There might be some good signs on the horizon.
John: Hi there, Kevin, and hello, everyone.
Kevin: Nice to be talking again, John. Now, I know you spend a bit of time in Tasmania and you know that market quite well. Tell me what’s happening.
John: Well, you wouldn’t think much was because Tassie contains only 2% of our entire population and only contributes 1% of the gross domestic product, so it’s not really significant in terms of that. But what I did realize when I looked at the history of the housing market is quite an interesting phenomenon that has occurred in the past, and that is that the last time we had a big boom in Sydney and Melbourne in 2000 to 2003, when it stopped, suddenly in one year, Hobart’s house prices shot up by 50% in just the one year. That was in 2004-2005. This is using official ABS data.
When I looked at the cause of that, it was mainly investors from the mainland looking at opportunities to invest in Tasmania. At that time, Hobart’s house prices were about a third of that of Sydney’s and that’s exactly what it is right now. I think that all the conditions are right for if the growth slows down in Sydney and Melbourne, it might kick off in Hobart especially.
Kevin: Yes, it’s well poised. It’s nice and close to the mainland, nice and close to both Sydney and Melbourne, as well. Here are some people who are almost putting them in parallel with Brisbane – Hobart and Brisbane – as the two big improvers this year, John.
John: That’s right. In particular, Hobart. I wouldn’t say that so much for the rest of the state because they have a lot of economic issues there, but certainly Hobart. It’s a very cosmopolitan city. It’s only a fraction the size of the mainland cities, but it has everything and it’s a market that has a lot of potential.
Kevin: Okay. Let’s continue to talk about Hobart, then, because that seems to be the area that has the most promise. What are the good areas, and what are the areas maybe to avoid in Hobart?
John: Hobart has a large percentage of ex-housing commission stock, and these tend to provide very high rental yields. It’s very low price. You can buy in the outer suburbs, Bridgewater and Rokeby and those sorts of places. You can get properties under $200,000 that are producing great returns of around $250 a week.
John: So if you’re after cash flow, these are really good areas, but then if you go to the higher priced areas, that’s where I think the growth is likely to kick in. The more well-established inner urban areas, there’s a lot of growth potential there.
Kevin: Give me an idea on price range when you’re talking about the upper price range in Hobart. What is it, John?
John: Well it’s a lot less than what it is in the mainland cities.
John: The median in Hobart’s about $370,000. When you compare that to $1 million in Sydney, you can see the difference. If you buy a property for $1 million in Hobart, you’re buying a property that’s on the waterfront, excellent views, close to the CBD, and Sandy Point, those sorts of places, which is about as high as you can get in the Hobart market.
Kevin: I was in Hobart I November last year, actually. It’s a beautiful spot to drive around. And it’s not hard to get around, either, John, is it? I found that very, very easy.
John: Yes. Well, the population of Hobart is only 200,000 people, which is double the size of Darwin, so it’s not a big city, but because it’s a state capital, it has all the infrastructure – the government administration, all the shopping, everything is there, so it has everything you need.
Kevin: Just talking about infrastructure, are there any major projects on the horizon that are probably going to auger well for the future of Hobart?
John: Not really. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of infrastructure development going on in Tassie at all. It doesn’t need a lot. When they build roads and bridges, they don’t need to do a lot of work, and there’s really no need for anything – no major projects that I’m aware of going on or planned.
Kevin: John, great talking to you. John Lindeman is from Property Power Partners giving us that overview on Tasmania.
John, thank you for your time.
John: That’s a pleasure. As I said, it’s a friendly place, a lot of it’s clean, green, and pristine, and I think there’s a good chance that we could find a big leap in prices in the way that we saw ten years ago.
Kevin: Good people visit there, too, John, don’t they? Like you.
John: I wish there were more of them coming, but of course, tourism is the future of Tassie. It has a lot of potential for investors right now.
Kevin: Good, John. Thank you very much for your time.
John: That’s a pleasure. Thanks, Kevin. Bye, everyone.
Kevin: At this point in the show, I want to take a break from doing it state by state. We want to take an overview of the entire country, and to do that, no one better than Cameron Kusher from CoreLogic RP Data.
Cameron, thanks for your time this morning.
Cameron: Thanks for having me, Kevin.
Kevin: It’s a pleasure. Now, Cameron, let’s have a look at the Australian market firstly and then maybe break it down by some highlights and some lowlights in each of the states, if we could.
Cameron: Nationally, what we’re seeing is that the rate of capital growth in the market is slowing. We saw in March, a 0.2% increase in combined capital city home values, so they’re still increasing, but the actual rate at which they’re increasing is slowing. In February, for example, we saw a 0.9% increase. Over the first quarter of 2016, values are 1.6% higher.
Now to put that in a bit of perspective, they fell by 1.4% over the final quarter of last year, but in the same quarter in 2015, the first quarter of last year, growth was 3%. So a pickup from where at the end of last year but still softer conditions than what we were seeing 12 months ago, and that’s really reflected in the fact that over the past year, values have increased by 6.4%, which is their slowest annual rate of growth in 31 months.
Kevin: Of course, this is on the back of a spectacular period of time out of Sydney, as well. How much has that influenced the market, Cameron?
Cameron: Sydney and Melbourne – being the two biggest cities – have a big influence on the overall results. The index is weighted, so the slowing that we are seeing in both Sydney and Melbourne clearly has an impact.
I said that nationally we saw the slowest rate of growth in 31 months. In Sydney, it was actually the slowest rate of growth for that city in 32 months, and there are clear signs that the rate of growth in Sydney is decelerating. After peaking at about 18.5% annually in July of last year, it slowed to 7.4% annual growth.
Kevin: Cameron, there’s been considerable talk about an oversupply, particularly in Brisbane and Melbourne. Is that, in fact, happening?
Cameron: Definitely. If we have a look at how much stock there is to come online over the next 24 months, it’s absolutely massive in Melbourne and Brisbane, particularly in inner city areas. It’s definitely concerning how much new stock is coming online.
If we actually look at Melbourne, for example, over the past 12 months, dwellings – so combined houses and units – have increased by 9.8% in value. But if we break that out by houses and units, you can see a massive discrepancy between the two. House values have increased by 10.7% over that period of time compared to just a 2.5% increase in unit values. And it’s a similar story in Brisbane: 4.9% growth for houses over the year compared to just 0.5% for units.
You can really see now that the difference in performance is widening and I think that’s reflective of this huge amount of new unit stock we’ve got, which has already come online but is certainly also coming online over the next few years in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Kevin: What sort of an impact will that have on the established market? Are we seeing an influx of listings coming in from established properties in those markets?
Cameron: If we have a look at listings both in Melbourne and Brisbane, new listings are higher than they were a year ago and total listings are generally a little bit lower. There seems to be a level of confidence in the Melbourne and Brisbane markets at the moment with vendors more prepared to bring stock onto the market, but isn’t necessarily turning into a faster rate of sale from the data we’re looking at. In fact, Brisbane’s time on market is similar to what it was 12 months ago and Melbourne’s is actually slightly higher.
It’s going to be interesting to see, but in terms of the established unit market, obviously, the huge amount of new unit stock coming online will also have an impact on the established unit market, as well, because, obviously, it’s more competition for buyers and a lot of units are obviously rented, as well. From a rental perspective, people have a lot more because there’s so much investor-owned unit stock now being built.
Kevin: Yes. It’s the key point – isn’t it – the days on market. It becomes a real tipping point when you see too much stock coming on the market. Therefore, a bit of an oversupply in stock generally, not just new off-the-plan stock.
Is there a point in time, Cameron, that you’ve been able to establish where you can determine with the balance between days on market and the amount of stock that’s available, is there a point where it moves from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market?
Cameron: There’s no exact science to it, but if you have look over the last couple of years, Sydney’s time on market got as low as 25 days, Melbourne’s got as low as 30 days. They’re now starting to creep a little bit higher. Whereas at the moment, markets like Brisbane and Adelaide, you’re seeing a time on market figure of around 45 to 50 days.
I would suggest that the tipping point is probably somewhere around 40 days, but it also might vary a little bit city to city, depending on overall conditions and how quickly people are to make their decision.
But certainly, I think in Sydney and Melbourne, overall the market is still favoring the seller, but it is swinging back towards a buyers’ market, particularly in Sydney at the moment.
Kevin: Cameron, great talking to you as always. Thank you very much for your time. Cameron Kusher there from CoreLogic RP Data.
Thanks, mate. Talk to you again soon.
Cameron: Thanks very much.
Kevin: It’s fitting as we head towards the end of the show and this great wrap that we’ve done all around Australia that we would focus very much on the Queensland state, one of the states predicted to be one of the big winners. It has underperformed in recent times, and it’s certainly not up to the expectation of a lot of people. But joining me to have a look at the Queensland market, Shannon Davis from Metropole Properties in Brisbane.
Shannon, before start, congratulations; the other side of your business, Image Property Management, just took a couple of major awards last night, as well.
Shannon: Thanks, Kevin. It’s been a lot of work down to the team, but it’s good to get some recognition.
Kevin: Large Agency of the Year and BDM, Business Development Management of the Year – accolades well deserved, Shannon, so congratulations to you and the team there at Image.
Shannon: Thanks a lot, Kevin.
Kevin: Let’s have a look at the Brisbane market. What is the sentiment? What are you hearing about Brisbane?
Shannon: The sentiment is a little bit fragile and perhaps lacking urgency. I think we’re expected to do well this year and probably be the leading, or if not leading, the second leading capital city around Australia. But just because we haven’t had the robust growth of the southern states, sometimes any negative news can have more of an impact in the Queensland market.
Kevin: The growth has been fairly well up to Brisbane’s standard, and the median price still just under $500,000. But still, we’ve had an almost 5% increase in the last 12 months, which is not too bad.
Shannon: It’s not too bad considering we’re in a pretty low-inflation environment and interest rates are quite low and money in the bank isn’t doing that much, either. Amongst those scenarios, it’s not a bad result.
Kevin: Where are the suburbs that you’d be looking out for? Where is the best buying right now in Brisbane?
Shannon: The middle ring suburbs probably have a little bit more value. The houses, especially on the south side, are really in high demand at the moment. That’s probably the hottest part of the market, I think. You have areas like Tarragindi, Holland Park West and Holland Park, and Annerley, and you’re still getting lots of numbers to open homes, multiple offers, and spirited bidding.
Kevin: What is the price range in, say, Tarragindi and Annerley, two of the well-known suburbs?
Shannon: It’s going really quickly through the $600,000s, mid to high, and even touching $700,000. All of that seems to have happened just in the last three or four months.
Kevin: The returns in those areas for investors?
Shannon: They can bank on about a 4% yield for houses. With that level of capital growth, it’s not a bad investment.
Kevin: Those suburbs you mentioned on the south side, what’s driving that growth?
Shannon: There are a lot of owner-occupiers, people who are confident of their position and jobs. They’re looking to upgrade, and other investors wanting to get some land with their investment are looking that way, as well.
Kevin: What other areas would you say to avoid in the Brisbane market?
Shannon: There is apartment oversupply in some inner ring suburbs. More than that, there is a pipeline of apartments coming, which is probably more ominous. But the supply is going to have to wait for the demand to catch up. There is going to be a lag period there. I think they’re not going to lay empty because there are so many amenities in the inner city lifestyle, but it’s taking a while to catch up.
Kevin: We are hearing about an oversupply or a looming oversupply of apartments, and you touched there on the CBD and those near-CBD suburbs. What are you hearing from developers? What are they saying? Are they tending to stand back a bit?
Shannon: I’ve heard that some projects are being, perhaps, delayed, not being commenced. The DAs are there, but not all are shovel-ready just as we speak, so maybe a little bit of hesitancy there.
Kevin: What’s impacting the markets in Queensland at present? We’ll take a broader view, excluding North Queensland because we’ve already covered that. But take a broader view of the South East corner of Queensland. What are the positive and negative influences on the market right now?
Shannon: Our transition out of the mining-type boom has been better than expected, I think. There are a lot of jobs being created in South East Queensland, largely down to the construction industry, and also tourism is seeing a big, robust injection. The weak dollar is really helping our economy. I think on the positive side, the South East corner s producing a lot of jobs and it has a good effect for investment.
Negatively, though, that sentiment can be fragile. It’s an election year, as you know, so sometimes that has an effect on big-ticket items. Also, APRA changes, which were meant to take the heat out of Sydney and Melbourne, affect Queensland borrowers because we probably haven’t had the same amount of equity growth, so we may start doing lower LBRs, only 90% lending, if we haven’t had the same growth, that has another knock-on effect to Queensland investors.
Kevin: Shannon Davis from Metropole Properties in Brisbane, thanks for that overview on the Queensland market, and congratulations, once again, on taking out those two awards, Large Agency of the Year and BDM of the Year, for the LPMA Awards. What does that stand for, by the way?
Shannon: Leading Property Managers Australia.
Kevin: Shannon’s other business, of course, is Image Property Management.
Well done, Shannon. We’ll talk to you again soon. Thanks, mate.
Shannon: Thanks, Kevin.