The trend that is sweeping Australian real estate, the one we call The Exodus To Affordable Lifestyle, started in Regional Victoria.
It has been, and continues to be, a strong trend elsewhere in Australia – but it first became apparent in Victoria. And it continues to be a powerful force there.

This significant demographic shift has been incorrectly reported in mainstream media as being a consequence of the pandemic lockdown period. In reality, The Exodus To Affordable Lifestyle started well before 2020.

It has been driven primarily by technology – which has created the ability for more and more people to work remotely – and has been enhanced in some instances by improved transport links.

Budget Will Boost Housing Market

The housing market will be greatly boosted by this week’s Federal Budget, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announcing $507 billion in tax cuts, cash payments and wage subsidies to drive business investment and create jobs. The Treasurer unveiled a $74 billion jobs and tax stimulus plan, including tax cuts of up to $2,745 for 11 million Australians, $200-a-week wage subsidies for young workers and almost $35 billion in business tax breaks. Frydenberg says the recovery plan will “rebuild the Australian economy and secure Australia’s future”. Business, industry groups and universities roundly endorsed the package. PIPA chairman Peter Koulizos says there’s plenty of good news for real estate consumers in the Federal Budget. “The job creation initiatives and tax cuts announced will support the property market, including helping young people not only stay in their rental properties but also move into home ownership,” he says. “The additional 10,000 places in the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme will also enable more prospective home buyers achieve their ownership dreams.”


Houses More Popular Than Units

The Australian property market has done an about-face as the nation deals with the coronavirus, producing major shifts in the balance between first-home buyers and investors as well as a preference for houses over units. 

Government homebuyer incentives and a preference for low density have seen the number of first-home buyers increase and turn away from apartments, which were traditionally the ‘point of entry’ into the market as well as being low maintenance. 

Meanwhile, property commentator Pete Wargent of says, “Low maintenance units have often been popular with investors and non-resident buyers, but these buyer numbers are well down from their cyclical peaks. Most homebuyers are now looking at houses and in part this is a shift away from density at a time when many are seeking space.”

In April 2020, a survey by MCG Quantity Surveyors revealed that investors preferred new buildings over established ones because of tax advantages, with a trend more towards lower density than higher density.


Westpac Predicts November Rate Cut

An interest rate cut before the end of 2020 is likely, but not until the Federal Government hands down the Budget, according to Westpac.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans says the Reserve Bank will want to consider the Government’s full response to the coronavirus pandemic and see what economic support will be provided, before making a decision.

Westpac expects the RBA to cut the overnight cash rate 15 basis points to 0.1% alongside its other policy measures in response to the recession caused by Covid-19.

The RBA’s next board meeting occurs on the same day the Federal Government will reveal its fiscal support measures for the coming year. Evans says if the RBA were to change policy settings the same day, it could detract from the Government’s ability to sell the Budget.

“A central bank moving on Budget day could be interpreted by the Government and the bank itself as diverting attention away from the Budget and complicating the Government’s task in selling the Budget,” he says.


Pandemic Creates Renovation Rush

Home-owners have been making the most of Covid-19 restrictions by renovating their homes, according to Suncorp, with the average makeover costing $63,188.

The renovations cover a range of projects, including renovating one room, improving shared living areas or making plans for a larger scale renovation to use the HomeBuilder grant. These include extensions and refreshing outdoor areas by adding a pergola, deck or swimming pool.

Suncorp executive general manager consumer lending Bruce Rush says postponed holidays or events were some factors that saw households starting renovations.

According to Suncorp’s renovation calculator, kitchens are the most expensive part of the home to renovate, averaging $20,750. A bathroom upgrade costs around $16,250, while a small deck costs about $4,300.

Suncorp data shows renovations are prevalent in The Gap, Burleigh Waters, Coorparoo, Elanora and Nerang in Queensland while Kellyville, Drummoyne, Miranda, Tamworth and Ballina are among the frequently renovated locations in NSW.


Sales and Listings Rebound: CoreLogic

Consumer sentiment is rebounding while the increase in auctions has signalled a positive upturn in the housing market.

Data from CoreLogic shows the number of new ‘for sale’ listings in the capital cities increased by 0.7% in the four weeks to 20 September.

Sydney, where the number of new listings rose by 382, recorded the highest increase. Perth also enjoyed an uplift of 286. Listings in Brisbane were up by 235, Adelaide up 137, Hobart up 29 and Canberra up 25.

While transaction activity is gradually improving nationally, Perth stands out as a market primed for recovery.

For the four weeks ending 20 September, Perth and regional WA were the only dwelling markets where new listings volumes exceeded the numbers in the equivalent period of the previous year.  

The results signify that vendors may be more confident in selling their property. The exceptions were Melbourne, where transaction activity is understandably constrained by stage 4 restrictions, and Darwin, where listing numbers are generally lower and more volatile.


Easier Lending To Improve Credit Flow

Banks will soon be able to rely on income and expenses information provided by borrowers, under the Federal Government’s changes to responsible lending guidelines. The move will speed up the credit approval process.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg plans to abolish the responsible lending law that was imposed by the Rudd Labor government in 2009 following the American subprime loan crisis.

Mr Frydenberg says the most significant reforms to credit rules in a decade would increase the flow of credit to households and businesses, reduce red tape and strengthen protections for vulnerable consumers.

“As Australia continues to recover from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that there are no unnecessary barriers to the flow of credit to households and small businesses,” he says. “By simplifying the application process for borrowers it will reduce barriers to switching between credit providers, encouraging consumers to seek a better deal.”

Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac have all welcomed the changes.


Buyer Demand Rises In Cities: Domain

Houses and apartments in the outer suburban areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth were in the highest demand in those cities for the month up to September 6, according to Domain’s Buyer Demand Indicator.

Using the Buyer Demand Indicator, those “likely to buy” are classified by the actions they take on Domain, like shortlisting a home, sending an inquiry, completing a property inspection and frequently viewing photos and the property listing.

The indicator shows that since the pandemic began, demand has increased everywhere but Melbourne and Hobart, with serious buyers showing the biggest increase in activity in Darwin where there has been a 72% increase in buyer demand.

“The current health crisis has changed the way we use our homes, and for some, altered our purchasing decisions and property wish lists,” says Domain senior research Analyst Dr Nicola Powell.

Demand from serious buyers, or those acting with “high intent”, have increased in most capital cities around Australia as pent-up demand from the coronavirus-related lockdown dissipates through property markets.


Houses Outperform Units On Growth

Houses have gained an average of 5.5% each year compared with 3.1% for units since the time of purchase, shows a new survey by consultancy firm Suburbtrends.

An analysis of 4,500 residential properties listed for sale across the country as of August 31 shows that houses are outperforming units.

“The result shows the benefits of buying houses over units,” says Suburbtrends director Kent Lardner.

“I expect the profit gap between units and houses to widen over the coming months due to rising demand for houses and buyers continuing to avoid units.”

In NSW, house prices rose by an average of 8% each year compared with 5% for units.  

Queensland house prices increased by an average of 5% each year compared with 2% for units. In South Australia, the figures were 4% and 2%, respectively.

In Western Australia, houses outperformed units by five to one.  Houses had three times the growth of units in the ACT and twice the growth in Victoria.


Clearance Rates Highest Since March

Capital city auction clearance rates have rebounded strongly, registering a preliminary strike rate of 72% last weekend, according to CoreLogic.

The result is the highest clearance rate recorded since early March and compares to 71% for the same time last year.

There were 918 homes taken to auction over the week, up from 816 over the previous week.

Against 74 auctions, Canberra recorded the strongest results at 89%. Sydney held 679 auctions with 72% going under the hammer successfully, while Adelaide had 73 auctions with 64% being cleared. The numbers in Brisbane were similar with 62% of the 65 auctions proceeding to sale.

Around the nation, good results were noted at the Sunshine Coast where 91% of auctions were successful; followed by Baulkham Hills, Hawkesbury and South West Sydney at 86%, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie at 82%.

Auction activity remained extremely low across Melbourne, with just 11 homes taken to auction last week and 13 the week before.

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