Capitals see downward trend in property sales

While recent figures showed an annual increase in dwelling values across the combined capital cities, property transaction volumes are now trending lower.

Based on settled sales over the 12 months to April, CoreLogic RP Data said an estimated 208,345 houses and 96,915 units were sold over the period – down 5.7 per cent and 12.2 per cent respectively on an annual basis.

Cameron Kusher, research analyst at CoreLogic RP Data, said that while Perth and Darwin were the only two capitals to see values fall in the 12 months to April, “the trend line suggests that the rate of decline in sales is starting to flatten”.

“This change could indicate that the worst of the value declines have been experienced and a level of demand is now returning to the market,” he said.

Mr Kusher said it is difficult to gauge exactly how strong the downward trend is in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane given how many units are under construction.

“Keep in mind that those which are funded locally will typically need at least around 70 per cent of the project pre-committed in order to commence construction,” he pointed out.

“This would seem to suggest that the recent decline in sales is not quite as strong as represented here.

“Nevertheless, affordability constraints, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, following consistent value growth in recent years is likely leading to a decline in sales.”

For the remaining capitals – Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra – transactions have been trending slightly lower, but Mr Kusher noted the trend is nowhere near as strong as that in Sydney and Melbourne.

The high costs associated with exiting a property, including agent commissions and stamp duty, are both likely to be “major deterrents” to an increased level in sales activity, he said.

“Consider this: in June 2002, the national population was estimated to be 19.5 million persons compared to current estimates at 24.1 million, yet transaction volumes are currently much lower than they were in mid-2002,” Mr Kusher said.

[Related: Building approvals climb higher]

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