The recent Covid-19 pandemic has sent stock markets across the world reeling. US futures and Asian stocks tanked as policymakers worldwide took dramatic steps to cushion the economic blow caused by the outbreak.
The US Federal Reserve and Bank of England slashed interest rates to a historic low of near-zero, with the former launching a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effects of the virus.
Investors are having concerns over the volatility of the property markets, as many countries go into full or partial lockdown to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.
But how much of an impact could current health fears actually have on house prices? The stock markets have fallen dramatically, but compared to property, stocks are largely driven by sentiment.
What’s the outlook for Australian property in 2020?
With a strong start to the year, Australia’s property market is looking bright for investors once again. We expect house prices to rise substantially this year, led by double-digit gains in Sydney and Melbourne.
Having made a rapid comeback in recent months, home price gains are forecasted to reach as high as 15% in Melbourne and 14% in Sydney in 2020. The other Australian capital cities are expected to have low to mid single-digit price increases — up to 7% in Hobart, 6% in Canberra, 5% in Perth and Brisbane, and 3% in Adelaide.
Historically low interest rates, strong population growth and tight supply of housing are providing support for price growth. Sydney and Melbourne, in particular, are tipped to surpass their previous house price records towards the end of 2020.
Prior to the slump of the last two years, house prices were at their highest in 2017, with the average house costing $859,500 in Melbourne, while Sydney’s broke the 7-figure mark at a staggering $1.05 mil.
Australia’s economic growth is expected to pick up this year, but risks to that include the recent global outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, and damage from the bushfire crisis.
The Reserve Bank has already taken steps to boost a flagging economy, having cut rates late last year to a record low of 0.75%. Economists have predicted further cuts this year to stimulate growth and increase employment.
Demand from a growing population
Australia has one of the highest population growth rates in the developed world. The World Bank puts it at fifth place behind Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Israel, although the first four are significantly smaller countries.
The growth in population comes mostly from migration, which accounted for 62% of total growth, according to latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Although the number of residents continues to go up, housing supply has decreased. The number of completions declined severely last year, and construction activity is expected to remain weak going towards 2020/21, which will fuel a higher demand for housing.
While interest rate serviceability thresholds for most borrowers has been reduced, lenders are expected to maintain their more conservative approach towards assessing borrower income and expenses.
Hence, although a market rebound is expected, it is unlikely that we will see a repeat of the surge that lifted prices by about 75% in Sydney and 65% in Melbourne from 2013–2017.
Currently, the favourable exchange rate is opening a window of opportunity for Malaysian investors. The Australian dollar fell to a 10-year low against the Malaysian ringgit in February 2020, at RM 2.74 to the dollar.
Here is our investor’s pick of Australian cities for 2020:
Australia’s star performer, this state has the highest economic and population growth of the nation. More than any other city in the country, Melbourne sees a continuing increase in migrants each year. Its present population of 5 million is not far off from Sydney’s 5.2 million, and is set to replace it as Australia’s largest city in the next few years.
House prices made a comeback at the end of 2019, attributable to lower interest rates and easier credit conditions. Melbourne rose a total of 8.2% in the year to Jan 2020.
The demand for housing in Melbourne will increase due to the continued migration and tightening supply. This will support the rental market and push values higher.
Vacancy rates, historically lean in this city, are at a tight 2.1% according to data in as recent as January. Although Melbourne has the largest supply pipeline of apartments of all the capital cities, this has significantly shrunk over the past two years. The number of starting projects has decreased, and we have seen several sites converted to other uses, like hotels, offices and purpose-built student accommodation.
Sydney (New South Wales)
Sydney’s sentiment and market activity have picked up in recent months, and demand continues to improve on the back of lower interest rates and easier credit conditions.
House prices went up by 7.9% in the year to Jan 2020, and auction clearance rates are hovering at around 70%.
The city saw a period of strong supply that reached its peak in 2018. Supply has since dropped and it is likely Sydney will fall into a position of undersupply for the next two years, causing rentals to stabilize, and support price growth.
Infrastructure spending and increased commercial construction activity will bolster economic growth in Sydney over the next few years, with projects like the $45 bil WestConnex and $12 bil Sydney Metro well underway.
Brisbane’s population growth has increased over the past few years and is expected to remain strong, growing by about 2% annually.
Housing remains very affordable compared to Sydney and Melbourne. The recent drop in house prices here has been quite shallow compared to the big two cities, with local values only 2.4% below their peak.
Supply is already very thin, and there are fears of undersupply in the coming years, especially as the population continues to expand. Increased infrastructure spending from key inner city projects such as the $3.6 bil Queens Wharf and $5.4 bil Cross River Rail are expected to support jobs growth, migration and housing demand.
Vacancy rates have fallen to 2.4% in Jan 2020 since their 4.1% peak at the end of 2016. The improving rental market, with relatively high yields, is expected to draw more investor interest this year.
Perth (Western Australia)
After a long decline since 2014, property in Perth has become one of the most affordable in Australia. Vacancy rates have also fallen dramatically to 2.1% early this year since peaking at 5.5% in 2016, indicating a ripe environment for growth.
Early in 2019 we saw the state government follow the trend to introduce a stamp duty surcharge for foreign buyers, but this was pulled back by the announcement of a stamp duty rebate just a few months later.
The stamp duty rebate is limited to buyers of off-the-plan apartments, and will last until the end of this year. Investors should take advantage of this window to benefit from the stamp duty savings.
Perth’s local economy is expected to bounce back strongly over the next few years with a recovery in the mining industry, which will boost jobs growth, migration and housing demand.
Article by Ian Choong; Edits by VP
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Australia is a diverse land that is home to a wide range of fascinating natural landmarks and iconic destinations. It is the world’s 12th largest economy, and ranks up there as one of the most well-developed countries in the world.
In the recent Victorian State Election, the Labor government led by Premier Daniel Andrews won a second four-year term, defeating the Liberal opposition by an increased majority of 52 seats. To be sure, Labor has grand plans for Victoria lining up to be executed, but investors will be more concerned about what’s in store for the property market. In their election manifesto, Labor had major plans for housing as well as transport and infrastructure. Let’s take a look.
Housing and Planning
Labor plans to improve the housing market in Victoria generally and to also put it on par with the Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET), the party’s primary focus for the environment.These efforts are to advance the quality and sustainability of the residential property in Victoria and forge a better standard of living.
Labor has promised that apartment buildings will be subject to a range of tougher standards such as mandatory green space, installation of sun protection and safe cladding. This is particularly important in consideration of the property boom in Melbourne’s inner city, with its rapid growth of high rise apartments. This suggests that there may be increased costs for future developments, in order to comply with these standards.
There also will be subsidies for rooftop solar panels on 700,000 homes, including a plan to allow the government to share costs with tenants and landlords for solar panel installation on rental properties. This will make buildings more energy efficient.
Transport and Infrastructure
Labor has a solid record for transport and infrastructure projects. Having already more than $60bn of rail and road projects in the pipeline, the party has further pledged to provide “the biggest transformation of public transport in Australian history”, which is to complete a $50bn suburban underground rail loop including 12 new underground stations. This is set to complete in 2050.
Additionally, Labor has fulfilled their previous promise to remove 50 of the most dangerous level crossings over eight years, improving safety and efficiency. The revised promise is for 75 to be gone by 2025, and the good news is that they are ahead of schedule, having already removed a total of 29 this term.
Many of Labor’s big projects are either already underway or have start dates including the $11bn Metro Tunnel project, the North East Link and the West Gate tunnel. Work on the long-awaited rail link to the airport will begin by 2022, and $100m has been allocated for planning towards fast trains to Geelong and Ballarat. Upgrades for the arterial roads and country rail lines are also part of Labor’s manifesto.
What’s in it for Investors?
The re-election of Labor is great news for the property investment in Victoria, especially urban Melbourne. The party’s housing and planning manifesto gives good sustainability that would catalyze the housing market.
The transport and infrastructure manifesto has high potentials to increase job demand. Melbourne has overtaken Sydney as the best place to find a job in Australia according to the Commsec’s quarterly State of the States report, which would only fortify its population growth. Added to this is the increased accessibility for residents living in the suburbs to work in the city, making Melbourne a top choice for anyone looking for a home.
This gives investors promising opportunities with good potential for capital growth and good rental yields, both of which is the highlight of any investment prospect.
Interested in getting in to the Melbourne property market and benefitting from its low vacancy rate and future development plans? Give us a call at (+65) 3163 8343 (Singapore), 03-2162 2260 (Malaysia), or email us at email@example.com!
Once again, Victoria has overtaken New South Wales (NSW) as the state with the strongest overall economic performance rankings in Australia.
Margin lender CommSec’s latest quarterly (Oct 2018) State of the States report has revealed that Victoria has come out top in several key indicators, namely economic growth, employment, construction activity and population growth. This is the first time that Melbourne has beaten Sydney as the best place to find a job in Australia, with trend unemployment rate at its lowest in a decade.
The unemployment rate in Victoria stands at 4.7%, approximately 17.4% lower than the decade average. Victoria’s employment rate, however, is well above (13%) the decade average, making it the best state to secure a job across Australia.
Apart from the employment rate, Victoria was also ranked first in construction activity. This is the second time that Melbourne has beaten Sydney to the top spot in this sector.
Victoria retained top spot with construction work done almost 39% above its decade average.
NSW construction was next strongest at 31.4% followed by South Australia, up 25.3%. Construction work done in these states were at record highs in the June quarter.
Victoria also topped the ranking for the second consecutive time as the state with the highest economic growth. Last quarter, it knocked NSW off its perch for the first time in a decade.
Economic activity in Victoria in the June quarter was 26.7% above the decade average level, ahead of NSW at 25.7%.
When looking across growth rates for the states and territories, it is clear that Victoria had exceeded the national average in all of the eight indicators measured, albeit by a narrow margin.
Last quarter, Victoria remained just ahead of NSW with strong economic strength, population growth, construction and investment activity.
The strong quarterly performance augurs well for Victoria.
Investors can look forward to leveraging upon these promising aspects of Melbourne, using it as a guide to future investments that could result in good rental yield and capital appreciation.
These next two months will be the last for foreign investors to make substantial savings on Perth property purchases. Come Jan 2019, Western Australia will join the rest of the country in imposing a stamp duty surcharge on foreign property buyers in the state.
Earlier this year, the Western Australia (WA) government announced that foreign buyers of residential property in the state will have to pay a stamp duty surcharge of 7%. WA is the last state in the country to impose a stamp duty surcharge on foreign property buyers.
The tax will be in force from 1st Jan 2019, and brings WA into line with the rest of Australia in imposing a foreign purchaser duty surcharge. This surcharge is now imposed by the six Australian states and the ACT at varying rates and scope.
Australian citizens, Permanent Residents and special category visa holders do not need to pay this tax.
Corporations and trusts are not exempted as long as foreign interests in the entity exceed 50%.
Residential developments with 10 or more lots are excluded from the tax.
Industry players like the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) have opposed the tax. Its outgoing President, Hayden Groves said the tax will cause an upward pressure on rental prices.
A turn for the better
Perth’s median house price for September was at $505,000, 1% lower compared to last year YOY. Comparatively, 3 years ago the median house price was declining at a more significant pace, recording a 4.2% decline between September 2015 and September 2014.
Although prices in Perth remain soft, the decline of house prices has slowed, which is good news and an indicator that prices are starting to bottom out. Improved affordability in the Perth housing market presents investors with an excellent opportunity to get in before the additional stamp duty kicks in on Jan 1st, 2019 and prices start to rise again.
Incoming REIWA president Damian Collins said that in this quarter leasing activity was up, median rents remained stable, stock levels had reduced, average leasing times were quicker and the vacancy rate had plummeted to its lowest level in more than four years.
Perth’s vacancy rate declined to 3.9% during the September 2018 quarter – the lowest level Perth has experienced since the March 2014 quarter.
Mr Collins said, “With all key market indicators improving during the September quarter, Perth’s vacancy rate has now fallen below the 10 year average.
“The rental sector is really leading the charge in the Perth property market recovery. The September 2018 quarter results are very encouraging and should provide landlords and investors with a lot of confidence.”
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