TIP: auctions, prices and loan numbers are up, but the hangover lies heavy

At this rate, prices will exceed the mid-2017 peak by early 2020


The difference a few months makes. Back in May, hand-wringing over property prices was the unofficial national sport. Now, it's like someone left the back door open for the dogs to escape.


CoreLogic reckons at this rate, Melbourne housing will exceed the previous mid-2017 record peak by February, and Sydney by April. There's still an element of caution in the prognosis however, as demand continues to outstrip supply in Sydney and Melbourne.


In Sydney, CoreLogic figures show listings are down 10.1 per cent on this time last year. The difference is more stark in Melbourne; current listings are down 16.2 per cent.


Average owner-occupier loan values also increased in September, up 7.4 per cent on this time last year, to reach $520,900.


That's little wonder considering what's happened in the meantime. The lowering of loan serviceability buffers (meaning borrowers are getting access to more money from banks) and competition between lenders is driving better deals for home buyers. The fact that only 60 points from the 75 points cut from official interest rates this year have been passed on is less of an issue in the face of these factors resulting in cheaper, bigger mortgages.


The big banks still have little appetite for risk, however. They're calling on the Morrison government to allow them to charge higher interest rates for borrowers taking advantage of the incoming First Home Buyer Deposit Scheme, to allow for the additional risk of lending to first-time borrowers with only a 5 per cent deposit.


We're building less, and building smaller


There are a lot of relieved property-types knocking around the traps at the moment, but home builders aren't among them. We know that it's going to take a while yet before the market's renewed fortunes translate into new home construction growth.


The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) has released figures showing the housing construction is worse than expected; it'll finish the year 8.4 per cent down.


Data out of CommSec isn't particularly exciting either. It has shown that average sizes of free-standing homes built in 2018-19 actually shrank to a 17-year low - meaning of those people who are actually building houses, they're building them smaller.


...and to round out the news of hangovers, spare a thought for REA Group. It reported a 14 per cent drop in its property classifieds business for the quarter, saying it has experienced the "worst market conditions" in three decades.