The downturn is easing, according to yesterday's CoreLogic figures. Home values fell in April, but at a slower rate of decline - which CoreLogic reckons is a positive sign when coupled with ABS February figures showing the rate of lending is increasing. "Housing market conditions may have moved through the worst of the downturn."
So, as the AFR's Matthew Cranston asks today, if the housing market is getting close to the point of recovery and the worst may be over, why so much pessimism? The answer is the wealth effect, where lowering values crimps spending, which has a direct negative impact on the economy.
Australian consumers are right to be gun-shy right now, despite the fact that cost of living pressures remained stable for most Australians in the first quarter as yesterday's ABS statistics showed. Prices aside, the volume of house sales in Australia has fallen to levels not seen since 1996 according to UBS, and ANZ showed yesterday that the rate of mortgage delinquencies among its customers is worryingly high, as the size of their home loans outstrips the declining value of their asset.
Speaking of ANZ, its results yesterday spoke of a bank that's rich on cash but light on asset growth - the opposite situation a successful major bank wants to find itself in. Translation: it's not lending enough. Its branch-light structure should make it the natural favourite of mortgage brokers, yet its archaic and bureaucratic processes make it a particularly difficult lender to deal with.
Another index that hit the stands today is JLL's Apartment Market Report, which showed the number of new apartments hitting the market has halved in the past 12 months. This will only reinforce suggestions earlier this week that supply issues could cause rental costs to rise in the next two years.
On the topic of rental supply, if you can get behind the paywall, have a read of HIA MD Graham Wolfe's piece in today's The Australian. He lays out a compelling case for Labor rethinking its plans for CGT as they will likely impact options for aspirant mom-and-dad property investors, and the flow-on effect this will have on rental property supply.
Which brings me back to the topic of the week: will the Reserve Bank cut rates next week? Yesterday the popular rhetoric said business and banks wanted a cut...today it's the opposite. This piece from today's AFR cites a bunch of business leaders saying a cut will be next to pointless, reinforcing findings from Canstar showing the negligible real impact of a May cut on the assumption that the banks do what they did last time (back in 2016) and either only pass on half a cut, or keep their lending rates static.