It had to happen sooner or later when we start to see real estate sales reach levels never witnessed before, which is exactly what is happening now on Sydney’s lower north shore where sale prices are running amok. The saying that real estate is not an exacting science is so true when one looks closely at real estate prices where the heat is now a blow torch and property valuers are having a lot of difficulty justifying selling prices to the lenders. For example; on a recent sale we made the valuer appointed by the lender submitted his valuation 10 per cent below the purchase price.
These are markets we have never seen where in the past Sydney would boom as one. This time what we have seen are scattered booms, with the other areas reporting solid results with nothing out of the ordinary. One million dollar markets have jumped to two million dollar markets; two million dollar markets are now three and three million dollar markets are now four million dollars and so on. I must admit the progression from slow and steady to fast and furious has caught many by surprise although for purchasers we are now in the final selling stages for 2016.
To the untrained eye, it seemed like just another property market run. To the trained however, it resembles a “Houston, we have a problem.” For example, clearance rates on the lower north shore are now well into the 90 per cent zone which is the highest recorded in years.
It will be interesting to watch how the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) responds following their last commentary on Melbourne Cup Day. “In the established housing market, conditions had eased relative to a year earlier, although there had been some signs that conditions had strengthened a little more recently. Housing price growth in Sydney and Melbourne had increased in recent months and auction clearance rates in these two cities had risen. In contrast, turnover and housing credit growth had been noticeably lower than a year earlier and the value of housing loan approvals had been little changed in recent months. Conditions in the rental market had continued to soften, particularly in Perth, where population growth had been easing and the rental vacancy rate had risen.’’
When you look at the respective market data we are witnessing some amazing data shifts. In Mosman, CoreLogic report that the average hold period is now out to 10.5 years where 3 years ago this sat at 7.5 years, so next year we can expect to see this blow out further to 12.5 years. The percentage of stock is another fascinating statistic where over the past year the percentage of stock offered is down to an all-time low for houses at 5.5 per cent where ten years ago it sat at 10.00 per cent. For apartments in Mosman the average hold is getting longer and now sits at 9.8 years and the percentage of stock on the market sits at a record low of 3.4 per cent. These are the property accelerants that are driving prices up as stock levels are at record lows across Sydney. Whilst it is being reported that Sydney prices have climbed another 12.1 per cent over the last year some areas would be double that plus some more.
Last week, Sydney boasted a clearance rate of 84.2 per cent, although CoreLogic reported the number of properties currently listed for sale in Sydney was 10.1 per cent down from the same period last year.
Now this is where it gets confusing when you look at household debt which is peaking at record highs and some suggesting that this is to be expected with a record low cash rate. How could this be expected when we have never had a record low cash rate before? Lending remains strong and currently sits well above inflation and wage growth. Although it must be said that our banks are now in a much stronger position, and they will need to be. During 2016, liquid assets have made up around 20 per cent of the major Australian banks total assets which is up from an average of 15 per cent prior to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Although it should be added that since the GFC property values have climbed to new record highs.
So, I am in the school of thought that the major banks will start hiking rates upwards in 2017 to start slowing down the property markets although it should be noted that those who have mortgages have been stress tested at 7.00 per cent.
Last year, we observed a fall in interest – only loans which are now on the rise again and that is a very dangerous sign. A recent survey by Digital Finance Analytics (DFA) revealed that four – in – ten interest – only borrowers had absolutely no idea when, or how, they will start to repay the principal and that 90 per cent are hoping to roll indefinitely their interest – only term.
Now this will have just the one ending as the banks will start rolling the clients as they should not have been approved in the first place. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) must take a long and hard look at interest – only loans as they are dangerous with a capital D!
In 2014 on this day there were 115 houses in Mosman on the market, this day last year 74 and today 54. For Mosman apartments they have reduced from 73 in 2014, 61 in 2015 and 42 today.
MOSMAN – 2088
Number of houses on the market this time last year – 74
Number of houses on the market last week – 57
Number of houses on the market this week – 54
Number of apartments on the market this time last year – 71
Number of apartments on the market last week – 49
Number of apartments on the market this week – 42
CREMORNE – 2090
Number of houses on the market this time last year – 15
Number of houses on the market last week – 6
Number of houses on the market this week – 5
Number of apartments on the market this time last year – 18
Number of apartments on the market last week – 24
Number of apartments on the market this week – 21
NEUTRAL BAY – 2089
Number of houses on the market this time last year – 8
Number of houses on the market last week – 7
Number of houses on the market this week – 8
Number of apartments on the market this time last year – 33
Number of apartments on the market last week – 28
Number of apartments on the market this week – 27