One of the nation’s top economists has revised his house price predictions in light of a Coalition victory. Here’s what his property roadmap looks like for the nation’s investors.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said the combination of Labor’s negative gearing plans not coming into effect, a cash rate cut likely for next week, Mr Morrison’s promised financial help for first home buyers and the banking regulator relaxing its 7 per cent interest rate test points to house prices bottoming earlier and higher than previously expected.  

Mr Oliver now anticipates capital city average house prices to have a top-to-bottom fall of 12 per cent – 10 per cent of which is already done – rather than 15 per cent.

Further, he expects prices to largely hit their floor at the end of the year.

A return to boom time?

However, given the still poor affordability, high debt levels, tighter lending standards and rising unemployment, a quick return to the boom time is unlikely.

Simply put: the fall has been big, and it will take a while to recover.

According to CoreLogic data, the fall in dwelling prices in capital cities are down 9.7 per cent from the highs of September 2017. With this, the total fall in value is the worst in 40 years, with Darwin (28 per cent), Sydney (15 per cent) and Melbourne (11 per cent) being the hardest hit.

How we got here

According to Mr Oliver, a range of pricing and economic factors caused the downturn: 

  • Firstly, a correction to the huge surge in 2017, where properties where overvalued and mortgagees were left with high debt
  • The end of the mining booms in 2014 for Perth and Darwin
  • Tightening lending standards that cracked down on lending to investors and interest-only loans
  • A surge in supply of units in the major capitals
  • 80 per cent collapse in foreign demand
  • A big pool of interest-only borrowers switching to principal and interest loans
  • Price fall feeding on themselves with a fear of not getting out of the market driving down the price
  • Investors started to fact in the probability of Labor victory, which would restrict capital and capital gain taxes, meaning another 5 to 10 per cent could fall

Recent wins for the property market

While the drags remain significant, several positives have become apparent over the last few weeks. Mr Oliver believes these will help stabilise the market:

  • First home buyers are now on the way as the government’s First Home Loan Deposit scheme takes effect.
  • Secondly, APRA is lowering the 7 per cent mortgage buffer making it easier to access capital.
  • The RBA governor has all but confirmed that rate cuts are on the way.
  • The threat to changes to negative gearing and CGT is gone with a Morrison government victory.

The influence of unemployment

The main risk is that Australia slides into a downwards spiral as the housing downturn and global slump trigger a surge in unemployment, which by default spikes housing prices. According to Mr Oliver, ultimately, this could cause a 30 per cent plus falls in the national property prices.

AMP predicts that 60,000 jobs will be lost due to the housing downturn. However, a number of factors, including infrastructure spending, resources investment are near the bottom, non-mining investment looking strong and tax cuts for low and middle-income earners, should cap unemployment at less than 6 per cent.

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