Matt Lahood
Matt Lahood, CEO, The Agency. Photo supplied.
  • Returning expats (400,000 came home during 2020) have driven the market
  • Increase in tree and sea changes, has boosted regional growth even more
  • Record numbers of first home buyers, spurred on by government grants

In its latest quarterly property report, ASX-listed property group The Agency (‘AU1’) has reported on a booming market, Australia-wide, the largest in more than three decades. This is in sharp contrast to what the ‘experts’ had tipped when the pandemic hit a year ago.

From across its 300 agents spread across the country, the headlines are that every capital city, except Melbourne, saw capital growth in property values. Regional markets (+6.9%) outstripped urban (+2%), and 2021 has started in an even more positive vein than 2020.

As CEO Matt Lahood said in the report’s introduction, a year ago there were predictions of 30% declines in property values. How the world has changed since.

According to Mr Lahood, some of the key drivers of the rising market are:

  • Returning expats (400,000, or one in five, came home during 2020)
  • Low interest rates
  • Increase in tree and sea changes, working remotely in the regions
  • Lack of available stock
  • Record numbers of first home buyers, spurred on by government grants
  • Downsizers capitalising on the market, particularly given house price growth is outpacing units

There was also a word of warning – don’t expect interest rates to be this low forever.

“The RBA says it has no plans to raise interest rates. But with Australia’s economy booming, this may change. Having been in real estate for several decades I have experienced the effect of 18% interest rates. So my advice to buyers is to always factor in a rate rise when you’re planning to purchase, just in case.”

Matt Lahood, CEO, The Agency

By year-end, Mr Lahood said he would expect auction clearance rates to return to normal 50% to 60% levels, rather than the current 80%+ they have been at since the New Year.

Around the country, the Agency is reporting:

Brisbane

The first property boom in some time, things started to move in the lower price categories but has worked up to the $4 to $5 million mark, according to the Agency.

The hottest price category within the market is still under the $1 million price point. Returning expats and interstate migration are the two key drivers in the market.

Rental yields very attractive for investors at 4.5%, and vacancy rates in February were down to 1.5%.

Perth

Half of the Agency’s agents are in Western Australia. Over in WA, there has been a dramatic shift in the market, back to 2006/2008 boomtime sales volumes.

The price bracket of $1 million to $1.5 million is performing well, in addition to anything in the 10 to 15km radius around Perth CBD area.

Iron ore (US170/tonne – almost at record highs) and other resources are performing well, and together with low interest rates, the property market is rocketing along, and is predicted to rise 6 to 12% in 2021. However, this will only get it back to 2014 levels, or before.

Rental vacancy rates have been below 1% for more than five months, and rents are predicted to rise by 20% with house yields already up to 4 to 5% – much higher than eastern states. Investor activity is up as is first home buyer activity.

Melbourne

After experiencing the harshest lockdown in 2020, 2021 has seen a huge rebound with prices up 4.9% in the recent March quarter.

In a balanced market, stock levels would around 50,000 listings, this there are only 38,000 currently. Both first home buyer activity and off-the-plan activity is also up.

Sydney

2021 has brought a huge property boom, dwelling values rose 2.8% in March and the median dwelling value is now $895.933. Asking prices across the city are now above $1M.

Consumer confidence and ‘FOMO’ are driving buyers, with houses outpacing apartments, with the apartments market also picking up.

Regional NSW is still booming, particularly in those areas with good commuter links to Sydney such as the Central Coast and Wollongong. Expats are seen as a significant factor, and they are even buying sight unseen.

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