Housing values record a subtle re-acceleration in February as sentiment improves

Core Logic Research News   •   01 Mar 2024

Housing values posted a broad-based rise in February with CoreLogic’s national Home Value Index (HVI) up 0.6% in February.

The 20 basis point acceleration from the 0.4% increase seen in January was the strongest monthly gain since October last year.  Each of the capital cities and rest-of-state regions recorded a lift in values over the month, except Hobart where the market fell -0.3%.

“Housing values have been more than resilient in the face of high interest rates and cost of living pressures,” CoreLogic’s research director, Tim Lawless, said.  “The ongoing rise in housing values reflects a persistent imbalance between supply and demand which varies in magnitude across our cities and regions.”

Perth continues to stand out with a substantially higher rate of growth compared to any other region, up 1.8% over the month.  Adelaide (+1.1%), Brisbane (+0.9%) and the regional areas of SA (+1.1%), WA and Queensland (both +1.0%) also show a consistently high rate of capital growth month-to-month.

“These regions are generally benefiting from a combination of comparatively lower housing prices and positive demographic factors that continue to support housing demand,” Mr Lawless said.

Although growth rates in Sydney and Melbourne home values have leveled out, the monthly trend has accelerated, with Melbourne emerging from a three-month slump of negative monthly movements to record a subtle 0.1% rise in February. Similarly, Sydney dwelling values have moved back into positive territory over the past two months after recording a subtle decline in November and December.

“Potentially we are seeing some early signs of a boost to housing confidence as inflation eases and expectations for a rate cut, or cuts, later this year firm up,” Mr Lawless said.

The re-acceleration in value growth has been accompanied by a bounce back in auction clearance rates, which averaged in the high 60% range through February.  Consumer sentiment also recorded a solid rise in February, signaling a lift in confidence.

“Auction results and sentiment have both shown a historically strong relationship with housing trends,” Mr Lawless said.  “The rise in clearance rates from the mid 50% range late last year to the high 60% range in February points to a better fit between buyer and seller pricing expectations.  A rise in sentiment suggests households will have a better ability to make decisions around large financial commitments, like a property purchase.”

Although the pace of gains has shown some uplift, most regions are still recording value growth well below the highs of last year when the national index rose 1.3% in May.  

“Last years’ rate hikes clearly dented capital gains, but higher interest rates haven’t been enough to extinguish growth entirely,” Mr Lawless said. “The shortfall of housing supply relative to housing demand is continuing to place upwards pressure on home values across most regions.

“However, it’s hard to see a significant rebound in values shaping up given downside factors. Affordability constraints, rising unemployment, a slowdown in the rate of household savings and a cautious lending environment, are all factors likely to keep a lid on value growth over the near term.”