LJ Hooker’s Peter Tannous has his work cut out for him in Sydney’s west, where he is now either coaxing desperate homeowners to close the sale of their properties quickly before the market dips again or consoling those who have sold at a loss.
As Corelogic’s Hedonic Home Value Index confirmed that property prices are continuing to drift down, this week Mr Tannous sold a two-bedroom unit for a 30-year-old homeowner who “couldn’t afford his mortgage” any more with a newborn arriving.
The apartment on O’Neill Street in Guildford sold for $450,000 even though the owner wanted $489,000. He bought the home for nearly $483,000 at the peak of the market in 2015.
“The royal commission has done the west no favours as banks tighten their lending criteria and focus more now than they ever did on serviceability,” he said.
“One lender won’t even take into account potential rent when considering a purchaser’s ability to service the mortgage. The broker said to the borrower “what if you can’t find a tenant”?”
Unfortunately, Mr Tannous and his colleague, LJ Hooker Merrylands principal John Contos have plenty more similar properties to sell especially for their investor clients facing pressure from rising rental vacancy rates and falling rents in Sydney. Two weeks ago, SQM Research said Sydney was now both a “renter’s” and “buyer’s” market.
House prices have also fallen again, according to the latest Corelogic Hedonic Home Value Index.
In July, Melbourne’s prices fell 0.9 per cent – the biggest across capital cities – while Sydney’s prices dipped 0.6 per cent.
In total, Sydney’s prices have now dropped 5.4 per cent for the year, while Melbourne is down 0.5 per cent. The only other cities with negative annual price changes are Perth and Darwin which are still suffering the effects of the mining and economic downturns in their respective states.
“We can’t see any factors that may halt or reverse the housing markets trajectory of subtle declines over the second half of 2018,” Corelogic head of research Time Lawless said.
“The availability of housing credit has been a significant factor contributing to this slowdown, however there are a variety of hurdles contributing to slower conditions.”
The highest-priced properties are mostly detached houses which are posting the biggest falls in prices in Sydney and Melbourne at 3.9 per cent and 3.3 per cent, but declines in apartment prices, both new and secondary, are likely to accelerate in the second part of the year as the completion of the large pool of new stock adds further pressure to prices, Mr Lawless says.
Capital Economics warns the “worst is yet to come” and anticipates a faster decline in house prices than initially expected.
“The acceleration in the housing downturn in July should make the Reserve Bank and some other analysts sit up and take notice,” Chief Australia & New Zealand Economist Paul Dales said.
“Our relatively bearish forecast that prices will gradually fall by 12 per cent from peak to trough is starting to look a bit optimistic.”
“Most worrying is that prices will soon be falling at an even faster pace. The further decline in the number of home sales in March to a seven-year low was larger than the fall in the number of new listings. In other words, demand is deteriorating at a faster rate than supply is improving.”
Demand from owner-occupiers, including first-home buyers, downsizers and upsizers, is the only cushion preventing the market from a large correction, Corelogic adds.
Owner-occupier credit growth is 8 per cent over the past year, while investor credit growth is about 1.6 per cent, mostly concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne.
“Despite the tighter lending conditions for this segment and weaker housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne, somewhat surprisingly, NSW and Victoria continue to show higher investment concentrations relative to other states,” Mr Lawless said.