Despite the recent slowdown, housing finance data highlights that investor activity in the housing market is starting to rise again and when you look at total returns from housing it’s no surprise.
The CoreLogic RP Data Accumulation Index which has been published since June 2009 highlights the total returns from residential property. The total returns include both the increase in values as well as gross rental returns.
The first chart shows the annual change in the total returns (accumulation) index over time. While combined capital city home values recorded longer and deeper falls during 2011-12, total returns were negative for only a short period of time thanks to the uplift from rental yields. More recently you can see that the annual change in total returns across the combined capital cities has remained quite strong.
Combined capital city annual changes in total returns for houses and units
Over the 12 months to May 2016, combined capital city home values have increased by 10.0% while total returns have been recorded at a higher 13.9%. Looking at the individual capital cities, all cities except for Perth have recorded positive total returns over the past year. Sydney and Melbourne which have been the most active investment markets have seen the highest total returns at 16.9% and 17.5% respectively over the past twelve months. It should be noted that gross rental returns in both of these cities are now at record lows highlighting that the majority of these returns have come via an increase in home values.
Annual change in capital city total returns, 12 months to May 2016
The third chart highlights the total returns over the past five years across all capital cities. Again, Sydney in particular, has seen far superior total returns compared to all other capital cities. Melbourne has also experienced relatively strong total returns over the past five years. Again this highlights why these two cities in particular have remained so popular with investors. In all other capital cities returns from residential property have been positive. In many of these cities the total returns have been driven more so by the rental returns rather than the capital growth which has been the key driver in Sydney and Melbourne.
5 year total change in total returns, to May 2016
Despite the recent rebound in value growth, the mature capital growth cycle and record low rental returns in Sydney and Melbourne, total returns are unlikely to be as strong in these cities over the coming years. A more balanced investment approach which focusses on moderate capital growth and relatively strong rental returns is likely to be a superior housing investment profile over the coming years. This data also highlights why housing investment has been so popular. In a low interest rate and subsequently low return environment housing has, over recent years, offered attractive returns. Whether this continues to be the case remains to be seen.
Home values increased by 1.6% in May 2016 with values 3.6% higher over the three months to May 2016
- Combined capital city home values increased by 1.6% in May with values increasing in all capital cities except for Perth
- Home values were 3.6% higher over the three months to May 2016 and Perth and Hobart are the only two capital cities in which home values have fallen
- Over the first five months of 2016, capital city home values have increased by 5.0% and Perth is the only city in which values have fallen
- Over the past 12 months, combined capital city home values have increased by 10.0% which represents an increase from the 7.3% annual increase in April, but remains lower than the recent peak of 11.1% annual growth in July 2015
- Across the individual capital cities, the annual change in home values have been recorded at 13.1% in Sydney, 13.9% in Melbourne, 7.1% in Brisbane, 3.9% in Adelaide, -4.2% in Perth, 6.1% in Hobart, -3.5% in Darwin and 5.7% in Canberra
Home sales have trended lower over recent months
- Over the 12 months to May 2016 it is estimated that there were 338,785 houses and 131,339 units sold nationally with house sales -4.1% lower and unit sales -10.3% lower over the year
- Across the combined capital cities there were an estimated 207,565 houses and 95,583 units sold over the 12 months to May 2016. House sales are -6.4% lower over the year while unit sales are down -12.5%
- Most capital cities are seeing the number of sales trending lower however, there are signs in Perth and Hobart, where home values are falling, that sales volumes are stabilising and potentially increasing a little
- It is important to note, the large volume of off-the-plan sales currently means there is a high likelihood unit sales volumes will be revised higher over the coming years
Overall weakness in rental market
- Combined capital city house rents are currently recorded at $489/week while unit rents sit at $469/week
- House rental rates have fallen by -0.7% over the past year (largest fall on record) while unit rents have increased by 1.6%
- In both Perth and Darwin, rental rates have fallen over the year for both houses and units
- Aside from Hobart, where rental rates are up 3.7% over the year, no other capital city is recording rental growth in excess of 3.0%
- The current movement in rental rates, coupled with value growth have resulted in rental yields trending lower over the year
- Gross rental yields for houses are currently recorded at 3.3% and unit yields are 4.2%, both of which are record lows
- 12 months ago gross rental yields were recorded at 3.6% for houses and 4.6% for units
Selling time of homes has increased slightly, while discounting levels are falling for units
- The typical capital city house is currently selling at 44 days compared to 42 days a year ago while the typical capital city unit takes 42 days to sell, the same as one year ago
- The average level of discount is recorded at 6.0% for houses and 5.3% for units compared to 5.9% for houses and 5.8% for units 12 months ago
- Auction clearance rates have rebounded in 2016 and were in the high 60% range last week, averaging 68.4% so far this year
Both new and total listings are higher than they were a year ago
- Over the past 28 days there were 42,843 new homes listed for sale nationally and 26,093 of these were listed across the capital cities
- New listings are 1.9% higher than they were a year ago nationally and 1.3% higher across the combined capital cities
- There were 240,927 total listings nationally over the past four weeks and 107,467 total capital city listings
- Nationally, total listings are 1.8% higher than a year ago while they are 10.4% higher across the combined capital cities
Economic data remain mixed
- New lending to both investors and owner occupiers has fallen from recent peaks with investor lending recording a much greater decline
- Total housing credit is rising however, investment credit growth continues to slow and is now well below APRAs 10% threshold for annual growth
- The rate of population growth at a national level has continued to slow over the September 2015 quarter
- Dwelling approvals increased in April and although they remain very high they remain below their peak
- After falling to the lowest level in seven months in April, consumer sentiment rose in May, to the highest levels seen since January 2014
- The unemployment rate was recorded at 5.7%, unchanged from March and remaining at its lowest level since September 2013
- The Consumer Price Index was released for March 2016 over the past month and it fell by 0.2% over the quarter to be just 1.3% higher over the year with underlying inflation at 1.5% over the year, both of which were well below the RBA’s target range of 2% to 3%