The consistent house-price increases in recent months have resulted in a more optimistic property-market sentiment amongst Australians, according to the latest report by ME Bank.
Over the past quarter, 42% of Australians were positive about the property market, up by nine percentage points from the previous quarter. On the other hand, the proportion of Australians who had a negative housing-market outlook went down by two percentage points to 24%.
"After a period of price declines in Australia's key property markets, consistent house-price increases over the past three months have created a much-needed period of stability, providing more certainty that early price increases weren't simply a blip in the data," said Andrew Bartolo, ME Bank's general manager for home loans.
Almost half of Australians in the property market were expecting prices to rise over the next 12 months. This was reflected across all major cities and states except Western Australia.
"With a relatively solid spring selling season and a number of months' worth of house-value growth under the belt, there's more confidence that the upward trajectory of prices will continue, albeit modest increases," Bartolo said.
Also read: More investors are coming to the market
While interest from investors dipped slightly during the quarter, they remained the most likely to participate in the market. Two in three investors said they intend to sell or buy in the next 12 months. In terms of age group, millennials expressed the highest intentions of jumping aboard the housing market.
"Over the past six months we've noticed people taking a 'wait and see' approach to the market. While the increase in plans to transact in the market is modest, greater positive sentiment in the market suggests the recent interest rate changes, house prices, auction clearance rates etc. are making an impact," Bartolo said.
On the other hand, property sentiment amongst first-home buyers did not surge as much as others did. This could suggest that the recent house-price movements could have already signalled the end of an opportunity to "buy at the bottom".
"The recent uptick in first-home buyer activity recorded by the ABS may represent the scramble to get in while they can due to renewed affordability pressures as prices rise," Bartolo said.
A recent study by CoreLogic said the growth in housing loans issued to first-home buyers would likely moderate as investor activity picks up and house prices rise.
"Housing prices are once again rising across most regions of the country while growth in household incomes remain sluggish, which will create renewed housing affordability pressures in markets where home values are rising faster than incomes," said Tim Lawless, CoreLogic head of research.
In terms of property supply, half of all Australians claimed that there were enough choices in the market. However, only a third of all first-home buyers believed the same as they struggled to look for affordable options.
“Housing supply is lower than last spring and the competition can be felt among those currently buying, so it’s not surprising that only one in two Aussies think there’s enough choice available,” Bartolo said.
Some concerns about the property market were also raised in the study — some were concerned about being forced to switch to interest-only repayments.
On the other hand, fewer Australians were worried about a potential decline in property values.
“Reduced concern about property values falling is likely connected to the increased sense of optimism about house prices,” Bartolo said.
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