The property market has attracted plenty of headlines this year, but the reality according to one major network, is that markets across the country tracked much the same as they did in 2015.
LJ Hooker said this is because the fundamentals that shift real estate markets - interest rates, supply, employment and population growth - saw little change over the year.
“If anything, these metrics moved further in favour of buyers, with interest rates cut twice and the national unemployment rate tightening over the course of 2016,” it said in a white paper released last week.
In the same report LJ Hooker offered five major trends expected to make an impact on the Australian property market in 2017.
1. Picking apartment pockets
The biggest change to the fundamentals in 2017 will be supply, especially in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
These markets have experienced near-record levels of dwelling approvals over the past 12 to 18 months, and 2017 is expected to see a large number of these developments reach completion.
So is this the 'oversupply' issue that has been widely talked about?
On the 'yes' side, a small number of inner-city Melbourne, Brisbane and, to a lesser extent, Sydney suburbs will be oversupplied. On the 'no' side, the vast majority of suburbs across all our capital cities are made up of detached houses and have seen very little, if any, apartment building occur.
“So if you are looking to buy an apartment in 2017 you need to 'pick your pocket' carefully,” LJ Hooker said.
“Ensure that you do your research into what development has occurred within your chosen suburb and what is planned for the future.”
2. Rise of the renter
A combination of factors which have evolved over the past few years will culminate in 2017 seeing a rise in a preference for households to rent property, putting their search to buy a home on hold.
These factors include affordability, investor demand and new supply.
Strong sales price growth has seen housing affordability deteriorate over the past 12 to 18 months, said the network.
"This will see some households re-evaluate their budgets and weigh up the cost of renting versus paying a mortgage."
It also said an increase in the number of investors buying properties over the past two years will see rental vacancy rates rise: "This will provide more choice for tenants and continue to see rental growth in general remain flat."
And, as identified in the first trend, the number of developments set to reach completion is expected to rise in 2017. This will see considerable growth in the number of new apartments available for rent, especially in popular inner-city suburbs.
3. Love thy neighbour
The rapid expansion of our cities has amplified the need for more dwellings and has led to the densification of suburbs around Australia.
LJ Hooker said this has seen councils re-zone residential, commercial, industrial and rural land to allow higher density development.
“The re-zoning of land has created the opportunity for neighbours to team up, amalgamate their properties and offer them for sale in-one-line,” it said.
“This trend has grown exponentially over the past two years, and ongoing demand from developers for well-positioned, amalgamated sites is expected to continue in 2017.”
4. The “sharing economy”
New 'disruptive' and innovative technologies will continue to shape how we live and how we interact with the built environment.
“This includes everything from how we control devices and appliances within our own homes to how we interact with businesses and the delivery of products and services," said LJ Hooker.
It said, looking forward these technologies and services will not only change the way we build new homes but 'sharing' services will also affect the way we use our existing homes to live, make money, save money and maximise our leisure time.
•Short-term and sharing accommodation services such as Airbnb are changing the way we use our spare rooms or how we rent our investment properties.
•Ride sharing companies like Uber are modifying the way we move about our cities and suburbs.
•Shared private parking rental services such as Divvy are changing the way we use our parking spots, driveways and garages.
•Shared car services such as GoGet are now being provided by councils, developers and strata managers, reducing the need and demand for private and on street parking spots.
LJ Hooker said the ability of these technologies and services to make you money, save you money or free up time will ensure that their take-up and popularity continues to rise over the coming year.
5. The cost of change
LJ Hooker also said the high transactional cost of selling, buying and moving home has continued to grow.
“This has now reached a point where people are reconsidering and/or delaying their next property move," it said.
“For downsizers, upsizers and first home buyers the additional costs associated with buying or selling a home has forced many to remain in, or renovate, their current home.”
The network said property price growth and low affordability is a key contributor to this trend.
“However, the biggest factor at play here is rising state government taxes, fees and charges.”