Rental rates climb over a seasonally strong first quarter – but at a slower pace than in 2017, according to CoreLogic’s first Quarterly Rental Review for 2018
Typically the first quarter of the year is the strongest for rental appreciation and growth.
Nationally, rents climbed by 0.3 percent in March to be 1.1 percent higher over the first quarter of 2018 and 2.2 percent higher over the 12 months to March 2018.
In comparison to the first three months of 2017 when rents increased by 1.5 per cent, the growth in rental prices has slowed (-0.4 percent).
Rental growth over the first quarter is higher in the regional markets (+1.2 per cent) than in the capital cities (+1.0 percent). This trend is also reflected in activity over the past 12 months – rents are up 3.1 percent in the regions compared to an increase of 1.9 percent across the capitals.
Over the first quarter, rents climbed in all capital cities except for Darwin (-0.3 per cent). The highest quarterly rental increases were in Hobart (+5.0 percent), which also reported its strongest first-quarter growth on record, and Canberra (+2.3 percent).
Over the past 12 months, Hobart reported the highest growth in rental rates (+11.7 per cent). Rents climbed higher in all capital cities except Perth (-1.3 percent) and Darwin (-1.6 percent).
The national median rent is $427 ($426 for houses and $430 for units). Across the capital cities, the median rental is $459 per week. The median house rental in the capital cities is $460 compared to $453 for units. Across the regional markets, both houses and units averaged $355 per week.
At $374, Adelaide has the cheapest weekly rent out of all the capital cities. The highest median weekly rent is in Sydney, where the cost is $582.
Rental yields have increased nationally by 0.1 percent over the past 12 months to 3.68 percent. The highest rental yields are in Darwin (5.83 percent) and Hobart (5.01 percent). Melbourne (2.93 percent) has the lowest rental yields, followed by Sydney (3.20 percent).
CoreLogic researcher Cameron Kusher says the data shows the rental market has softened.
“The data suggest that in most capital cities the rental market has softened, although values are still rising they are doing so at a slower rate than they have over recent first quarters of the year.”
“From an investor’s perspective, large new housing supply additions and slowing rental growth means that they will need to find ways to differentiate their properties from others. Whether that is on rental cost or by renovation, we would expect that competition for tenants in most capital cities will increase.”
“Rental yields are climbing slightly from historic low levels, however, they remain lower than they were a year ago.
“Investors remain most active in NSW and Vic and have been targeting capital growth rather than rental return. With values now falling, active investors should be more focused on those regions with stronger prospects for value growth and higher rental returns.”
Housing finance data from The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on first home buyer activity has generally shown that this segment of the market has been tracking at below average levels over recent years.
However, with each state and territory offering some level of incentive to first home buyers including grants and tax concessions, this segment is moving along quite nicely.
Nationally, there were 8,782 housing finance commitments in February 2018. Although the volume of loans was down on levels in late 2017, it was 33.1% higher than the previous February.
As a share of all owner occupier commitments, first home buyers accounted for 17.9% in February 2018 compared to 13.3% the previous year.
Across the individual states and territories, we’re seeing several varying trends emerge – all likely due to activity across other buyer types in the market and how recently certain incentives have become available.
Performance around the States:
NSW: February 2018 saw 2,246 first home buyer housing finance commitments compared to 1,105 the previous year which is an increase of 103.3%. Since the end of June 2017, stamp duty concessions have become available and over the 8 months, there have been 18,400 commitments compared to 10,857 over the previous 8 months. First home buyers now account for 15.1% of owner-occupier finance commitments up from 7.5% a year earlier. The 15.1% is the greatest share 3,000 since October 2012.
Vic: 2,619 finance commitments to first home buyers in February 2018. The number of commitments was 38.6% higher than a year earlier. Vic also saw stamp duty exemptions go live on July 1 last year. From the end of June there have been 23,996 first home buyer commitments compared to 17,522 over the previous 8 months. First home buyers accounted for 18.3% of commitments compared to 13.9% a year earlier.
Qld: Over the month there was 1,839 first home buyer housing finance commitments. The number of commitments was only marginally higher from a year ago (+3.8%). First home buyers have been much more active over recent years than in NSW and Vic although, it should be noted investors have been much less active in the Qld market. First home buyers accounted for 19.3% of the market in February 2018 compared to 17.6% a year earlier.
SA: In February 2018 there were 443 first home buyer housing finance commitments. Although the number was lower than those recorded late last year, it was 17.8% higher than the previous February. Despite house values being the lowest of any mainland capital city, SA has the lowest share of first home buyer activity of any state or territory with 13.0% of owner-occupier commitments going to first home buyers, a year ago they accounted for a 10.5% share so they have risen a little.
WA: There were 1,185 first home buyer finance commitments in February 2018 which was -0.1% fewer than the volume in FHB No. (LHS) February 2017. WA is the only state or territory in which there were fewer commitments to first home buyers than a year ago. Despite the fall in volumes, first home buyers account for 25.0% of all owner occupier housing finance commitments compared to 22.2% a year ago.
Tas: Over the month of February 2017 there were 137 first home buyer housing finance commitments which were 2.2% higher than the previous February. As a share of all owner-occupier housing finance commitments, first home buyers account for 13.9%, up marginally from 13.8% a year ago. A common commentary is that a lot of younger people are moving to TAS to buy a home because they can’t afford one on the mainland. Although the number of first home buyers rose over the year, they remain very low which suggests, at least at this stage, first home buyers in TAS are not particularly active.
NT: While 52 first home buyer commitments in February 2018 is quite a low number, it is 26.8% higher than the previous year despite a sharp monthly fall. As a share of all owner occupier commitments, first home buyers account for 19.4% compared to 14.7% a year earlier, however, the share is currently trending lower.
ACT: The 261 first home buyer housing finance commitments in February 2018 was a 177.7% increase in the number from the previous year. As a share of all owner occupier commitments, first home buyers accounted for 25.6% in February 2018 which was the highest share since October 2009.
The latest trends in first home buyer activity highlight the sensitivities of this important market segment to both affordability constraints as well as market incentives such as first home buyer grants and stamp duty concessions.
Despite overall slowing conditions in Sydney and Melbourne, the CoreLogic home value indices results show that the more affordable end of the housing markets in these cities as still seeing values rise and likely generated by first home buyer activity.
In other cities where affordability constraints are less severe, in the absence of any changes to first home buyer incentives, first-time buyers generally remain more active relative to Sydney and Melbourne.
With demand from the investment segment expected to continue to be weaker than it has over recent years, this may afford more opportunities for first home buyers to enter the market.
Outside of the two largest cities, first home buyer volumes may lift over the coming months due to ongoing low mortgage rates and relative affordability compared to Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, the outflow of people from NSW to other states and territories is continuing to rise which may result in increases in first home buyers elsewhere.