The slowdown in the mining and construction sector is pointing to a drop in sales for the December quarter in Western Australia.

An analysis of the quarter released by REIWA (Real Estate Institute of Western Australia) indicated falling sales, but steady prices.

REIWA president David Airey said sales activity had peaked two years ago and had been trending down since the March quarter of 2013.

“Turnover of the December quarter is about 14% below the 15 year average,’’ he said.

A downturn in the mining and resources sector was a continuing factor in causing the population growth rate to fall.

“This situation is likely to affect the housing market for all of 2015, but we should have a clearer picture of trends by the end of the March quarter.”

Despite the drop in sales, prices remained relatively steady.

Airey said Perth’s median house price lifted marginally in the December quarter last year to settle around $553,000.

“This is at variance to Landgate (who provides Government, business and individuals with land information and geographical data) which is reporting a preliminary median of $540,000, but this is likely to be revised upwards with further settlements,” he said. 

“It looks like Perth will have experienced growth of around 4.6% when compared to 2013.”

Some inner-city areas such as South Perth/Victoria Park and City of Belmont saw a drop in median price of 4% and 7% respectively.

Most outer areas also saw a decline in activity, although places like Kwinana and Serpentine-Jarrahdale were the exception.

“In fact, Kwinana saw a notional 6 per cent lift in median house price, probably due to the increased number of sales from brand new stock,” Airey said.

In the regions, Busselton was the strong performer for both the quarter and year, gaining 9.4 per cent growth during 2014. The Mandurah/Murray region along with Albany saw growth of just over 1% in the quarter, while Northam went up by 3%.

Listings jumped by around 600 properties in the metropolitan rental market to a vacancy rate of 4.2%, putting downward pressure on prices.

The increase in sales with more expensive properties was more notable through the western suburbs, the coastal edge of the City of Stirling and the City of Melville.

“The distribution of sales within various price ranges was pretty steady, although there was greater activity in the more affordable $400,000-$450,000 range, as well as some increased sales with homes over $1 million,” Airey said.

Airey said the stand-out feature from the quarter was the 28% spike in listings, taking the number of properties for sale to over 13,000, before settling back to around 12,000 by the end of the year.

He also said more recent data showed listings haven’t bounced as dramatically as might be expected across January, “however this may change as the holiday season finishes”.