Does a property price downturn, open up future investments?

Property prices have yet to see the fall predicted by some property market analysts. That could come in due course, however right now property price declines have been fairly mild across the country. 

There are, however, exceptions.

According to the May home value index results released by CoreLogic, the dwelling market declined just 0.4% over the month. It is expected the rate of decline has gathered some momentum through the month and will have a significant impact in June.

There are certain regions across the country that have been hit hardest. 

According to CoreLogic, the most expensive parts of Sydney and Melbourne are leading the current downswing. It should be noted this is cyclical.

Looking at overall values in these cities, property values in the top quartile of the Melbourne market (dwellings worth $959,500 or more) fell by 1.3 per cent. The middle market has seen a 0.6 per cent decline, with the lowest point of the value market experiencing a 0.3 per cent decline.

In Sydney where dwellings are worth over $1.35 million, there was a 0.6 per cent fall, followed by a 0.4% decline across the middle of the market.

“The more expensive parts of the Sydney and Melbourne dwelling markets have higher levels of volatility, and are at times a ‘first mover' when it comes to the direction of price change,” Eliza Owen, Head of Research at CoreLogic said.

Contrary to trend, the lowest value segment enjoyed a 0.1 per cent increase.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), those properties in the highest value bracket are generally more reactive and volatile to major events or changes in the cash rate.

Of those regions hit hardest, Melbourne’s inner city and eastern suburbs were subject to the metro’s largest decline. The Melbourne suburbs hit hardest are Malvern East down -4.8 per cent Glen Iris down 3.8 per cent and Northcote down 3.5 per cent.

While in Sydney, North Sydney, the Inner West and the Northern Beaches were hit hardest with Mosman declining 2.5 per cent, Lane Cove North declining 2.4 per cent and Manly dropping 2.3 per cent.

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As the downturn progresses, we are likely to see continued declines in inner-city markets that had previously relied on international migration for new housing demand. However, as the wider economic downturn drags on housing demand, mild price declines are likely to spread, resulting in a more broad-based downturn in the next 12 months.

Mandurah in the south west coast of WA was hit significantly. By the end of May, it experienced a value decline of 38% below its 2006 peak. Overall, this year Perth had bucked the trend with house values generally rising. Yet, the ABS reports Mandurah has been hit by a 6 per cent payroll loss between March and May. It has also been hit by a decline in overseas migration, which is also being seen in the south east of Perth.

While the declines aren’t ideal, some investors and home buyers are asking themselves if now is the right time to buy.

Is it worth investing in a depressed property market?  

Depending on who you listen to, the impact of COVID-19 on the property market will either be temporary or devastating.

The worst case scenario is that property will decline by 30 per cent. If that is the case, it would be foolhardy to move into the market now.

Yet, the general consensus is property prices, though dropping, will only continue to see mild falls and with prices dropping and interest rates at historic lows, now is a great time to buy.

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Of course we need to factor rising unemployment and a contracting economy into the equation. Discretionary sellers are also holding out.

Interestingly, there have been 11 recessions since 1945 that have taken, on average, 11 months to reach their lowest point. Consumer confidence was low during these times, but history shows it was a good time to buy real estate.

You should seek professional advice before you make a decision, but generally what you will find is homeowners who are willing to lower their asking price, short sales and foreclosed properties during these periods.

These scenarios all point to prices below or well below what a particular home would be worth in a healthy economy.

You need to weigh up your own circumstances before making a buying decision, but given low interest rates, low prices and the inevitability that property prices will rise, a property purchase in a downturn is worth consideration.


This update is not financial advice. This article is general news and information.

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