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Today in property: auctions bounce back, lenders already cutting rates, RBA cut a 50/50 bet each way

"Auctions bounce back as downturn eases" says today's AFR, citing CoreLogic figures showing a 58.8 per cent clearance rate across the board over the weekend. This time last year, the clearance rate was 62.1 per cent. Sydney booked 66.6 per cent, Melbourne 60.8 per cent. The big winner was rural South Australia, however; it hit a 100 per cent clearance of farming properties that went under the hammer over the weekend.

Frasers Property's Australian chief exec, Rob Fehring isn't feeling optimistic, however. He reckons housing prices are going to keep falling for at least another 12 months and won't start to rise until 2021. He's also budgeting for minimum 12-week settlement periods during the second half of this year due to finance restrictions.

Some buyers are flying in the face of that point of view, in a big way. Nick Lenaghan writes today in the Fin about Sydney investors purchasing entire unit blocks, in an effort to lock in their capital ahead of changes to the taxation system. The buyers are characterised as families (both local and offshore) who intend to hold the assets long-term.

On the subject of negative gearing and capital gains tax, and back to Rod Fehring - who clearly had a lot to say over the weekend. He's talking up the changes proposed by Labor as a trigger point for a demand-driven lift in standards in apartment design and construction in Australia.

But can people afford to buy? Second-tier lenders appear to be doing everything they can to help people along; Suncorp, ING Bank, Adelaide Bank and Teachers Mutual are all cutting rates ahead of the Reserve Bank's decision tomorrow, putting their products significantly lower than those offered by their big-bank counterparts.

Regarding official rates, it's still a 50/50 bet each way on whether the RBA will order a cut when it meets tomorrow. KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne reckons they should hold, as do the Australian National University-based members of the so-called shadow board of economists. If rates do drop, AMP Capital's chief economist Shane Oliver reckons the impact won't be felt in the market for months - which may give the RBA cause for pause if it's looking for a shorter-term fix.

If you believe UTS Business School professor, Warren Hogan, that fix could be found by cutting inflation targets, not the cash rate. NAB is a little more pedestrian; it's saying there will be a cut - but not just yet. ANZ, on the other hand, is betting on a cut tomorrow. If you want to take a flutter of your own, Ladbrokes is offering 1.45 for no change and 2.25 for a decrease of up to 0.25 per cent.

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