Properties are still being snapped up pretty quickly, the latest data shows, but it’s expected that more Australians will start falling behind with their mortgage payments next year.
The struggles are likely to stem from the fact that while capital city home prices continue to rise, the increase in wages has been pitiful.
Data company CoreLogic has released a new report which shows homes in Australia’s capital cities were on sale for an average of 39 days during September. This is compared to a 36-day average in September last year.
Although this represents a slight rise year-on-year, it’s a big drop from January and February when the average was around 70 days, and it’s still a long way off the peak of 62 days seen in 2011.
Sydney property took an average of 32 days to sell in September this year whereas in 2012 it took 46 days. In Melbourne the average sale period is down to 31 days, half what it was five years ago.
Speaking about the new data, CoreLogic analyst Cameron Kusher said Sydney and Melbourne remained Australia’s most popular cities for buyers and he didn’t expect prices to fall in 2017 despite many predicting an influx of new properties.
“This is being driven by ongoing strong housing demand coupled with relatively low stock levels,” Mr Kusher said.
“While these conditions persist it is difficult to see how home values in Sydney and Melbourne in particular, won’t continue to increase.”
It seems that Australians are pushing themselves to the limits with these purchases though, as ratings agency Moody’s has revealed that arrears rates are likely to rise next year. This is mainly driven by poor performance in the mining states and wage growth coming in lower than expected.
However, the major commercial banks shouldn’t take too much of a hit despite the rise in arrears, as most Australians have accrued more value in their homes and this will help to offset any losses.
The growth in wages recorded in September was at a record low of just 1.9% annualised, and Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show this weakness spans most sectors.
Moody’s analyst Alena Chen said there was a worrying trend in the rising rate of underemployment (people working fewer hours than they are capable of). “We expect delinquencies to increase moderately in 2017 from their current low levels,” she said.
“Weaker economic conditions in states reliant on the mining industry, rising underemployment, weak wage growth, and less favourable housing market conditions will drive delinquencies higher.
“Losses will remain low in 2017, because house price appreciation and deleveraging have increased the amount of home equity available to absorb losses if loans default.”
Ms Chen believes that since the current housing market cycle began in 2013, mortgage lenders have not been quite so cautious and may have issued credit to higher-risk borrowers.
This should serve as a warning to anyone considering their first property purchase soon, then – set your own limits rather than going with whatever the bank offers you.