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Housing Market Growth
2012 to 2014 vs 2001 to 2004 Boom

Let's take a look at how current housing market conditions compare with the boom in home values between 2001 and early 2004.  Immediately a point to note is that the current housing market upswing came off the back of dwelling values falling over the previous two years. If we assume that the previous boom period began at the start of 2001, there had actually been no home value falls prior to its commencement, rather the increase in home values had been more moderate at 6.6% over the 2000 calendar year.

The previous boom ran from the beginning of 2001 until October 2004 across the combined capital cities.  Over that 46 month period, home values rose by a total of 68.1% across the combined capital cities.  This is a monthly rate of value growth over that period of almost 1.5%.The current rise in capital city home values commenced in June 2012 and up until November 2014 values had been trending higher for 30 months.  Over this 30 month period combined capital city home values have increased by 19.6% or a monthly rate of growth of 0.7%.  Again it is also important to consider that the current growth phase occurred off the back of values having fallen by -7.4% between October 2010 and May 2012.  After 30 months of growth in the 2001 to 2004 growth period, combined capital city home values were 52.1% higher.

The combined capital city growth really only tells part of the story though.  The capital city housing market isn’t homogenous and growth periods begin and end over different lengths of time.  Because Sydney and Melbourne are the largest cities by some way and given our Home Value Index is weighted to reflect that, the capital city results are influenced much more by these two cities than the other capital cities.

Given there were no home value falls prior to the growth between 2001 and 2004, if we assume that the growth phase stared in January 2001 we see that the growth ran for varying lengths of time.  In fact in most capital cities, home values continued to rise following October 2004 albeit the rate of growth was more moderate than it had previously been. Looking at home value growth across the cities from January 2001 to October 2004 you can see that the rate of growth varied greatly.  It is interesting to note that Sydney and Melbourne’s rate of value growth over that period was much more moderate than in all other capital cities except Darwin.  Furthermore, the growth in home values commenced much later and ran for longer in most other capital cities.

Taking a look at the level of value growth over the current growth phase there are quite a few points of note.  Firstly growth has been more moderate than what was recorded over the previous growth phase.  Secondly, while Sydney and Melbourne were two of the weaker growth performers previously, they have been the standout performers across the current growth phase.  Sydney and Melbourne have been the strongest growth performers, value growth has been moderate elsewhere but particularly weak in Adelaide (3.6%), Hobart (0.0%) and Canberra (4.6%).

To look at the results another way and by way of direct comparison, we should look at the rate of value growth per month.  To determine this I have divided total value growth by the number of months and the results make for some interesting reading.  Between January 2001 and October 2004, the rate of monthly growth across the cities was recorded at: 1.3% in Sydney and Melbourne, 2.3% in Brisbane, 2.0% in Adelaide, 1.4% in Perth, 3.0% in Hobart, 0.7% in Darwin and 2.1% in Hobart.  Looking to the current growth phase, monthly value rises have been recorded at: 1.1% in Sydney, 0.6% in Melbourne, 0.4% in Brisbane and Darwin, 0.1% in Adelaide, 0.5% in Perth, 0.0% in Hobart and 0.2% in Canberra.  Clearly the growth in home values has been more moderate over the most recent growth phase.

While growth has been more moderate, so too have the number of homes selling.  In both growth phases the number of sales has increased however, in the current market the rise in sales has been much more modest than the rise in 2001-04.  Over the period from January 2001 to October 2014 there was a total of 1,402,217 capital city house and unit sales or a monthly average of 30,481.  In comparison, over the period from June 2012 to September 2014 there have been 716,908 house and unit sales or a monthly average of 25,604 sales.  Monthly sales volumes over the current growth phase have been -16% lower than they were between 2001 and 2004 despite a high rate of population growth and development of new housing stock.

Across the individual capital cities the number of monthly sales is lower than over the 2001 to 2004 boom period.  In Sydney monthly sales are -14% lower and elsewhere the differentials are recorded at: -8% in Melbourne, -28% in Brisbane, -12% in Adelaide, -16% in Perth, -35% in Hobart, -4% in Darwin and -31% in Canberra.  So not only has value growth been slower in each capital city this time around, so too has transaction activity.
The lower rate of sales can probably be attributed to the low level of first home buyer participation in the market as well as household savings being much higher than what was recorded between 2001 and 2004.
Looking at some of the broader economic conditions suggest some sizeable differences between the 2001-04 boom and current market conditions.

At the beginning of 2001 standard variable mortgage rates were recorded at 8.05%.  By the end of the year they had fallen to 6.05% which was the low point for the cycle.  By the time home value growth began to fall standard variable mortgage rates had climbed to 7.05%.  Over the current growth phase, standard variable mortgage rates were 6.85% in June 2012 having fallen from 7.05% the previous months.  From that level they have fallen to 5.95% and have been on hold at that level for the past 16 months.  Given this for the past 16 months standard variable mortgage rates have been lower than they ever were during the 2001 to 2004 boom.
Housing credit advanced by a total of 89.1% over the period from January 2001 to October 2004 at a rate of 1.9% a month.  Over that period, investor credit expanded at a rate of 2.4% a month, outpacing the 1.7% monthly expansion in owner occupier credit.  Over the current growth period, housing credit has expanded by 13.4% at a rate of 0.5% a month.  Over the period, owner occupier credit has risen by 0.4% a month compared to 0.6% a month for investor credit.

The rate of credit growth really does only tell part of the story because much more is lent for housing now than it was back in the previous boom so you would expect the growth rate to be lower now.  It is important to remember that the cost of housing was also lower at that time so the typical mortgage was much lower than it is today.  Finally, because the data looks at credit outstanding, if repayment of that credit is being made at a faster pace it will also impact on these figures.  Throughout the 2001 to 2004 boom housing credit expanded at a rate of $6.4 billion a month with owner occupier credit up $4.0 billion a month and investor credit rising $2.4 billion a month.  Over the current growth phase, housing credit is expanding at a rate of $5.7 billion a month with owner occupier credit rising $2.9 billion a month compared to a $2.8 billion monthly increase in investor credit.  This seems to suggest that housing credit is increasing by only a slightly lower amount currently than it was back in the 2001 to 2004 boom.  As mentioned before, the biggest influence on this is likely to be the cost of housing now as opposed to then especially when you consider how much lower sales transactions are currently.

Looking at the supply of housing, over the 2001 to 2004 period, an additional 654,253 dwellings were approved for construction at a rate of 14,223 per month.  Over the current phase there have been 436,130 dwelling approvals at a rate of 15,039 per month.  In the current phase the pipeline of approvals has grown at a faster rate of course, the national population is higher so this is certainly a positive outcome.

Unfortunately population growth data is only available each quarter.  Each month we do receive overseas arrivals and departures data which correlates strongly with net overseas migration data.  The other component of population growth, natural increase, does not have as big of an impact on housing demand as overseas migration.  Over the 2001 to 2004 boom period, there were 603,550 net long-term and permanent arrivals to Australia at a rate of 13,121 per month.  Over the current growth phase there have been 880,120 net long-term and permanent arrivals to Australia at a rate of 31,433 per month.  The data shows that net migration to Australia has been much stronger over the current growth phase compared to the previous phase which creates additional housing demand.

Household finance data highlighting selected ratios from the RBA is only available each quarter but is worthwhile to analyse.  Between December 2000 and September 2004, the ratio of housing debt to household disposable income increased from 78.8% to 118.0%.  Subsequently, household debt to household disposable incomes rose from 95.2% to 137.2% and housing assets to household disposable income rose from 333.4% to 448.3%.  From June 2012 to June 2014, housing debt to disposable income rose from 130.4% to 137.7% and household debt to disposable incomes rose from 145.2% to 151.1%.  Meanwhile, housing assets to disposable income increased from 393.7% to 433.6%.
In summary, the comparison between the 2001 and 2004 growth phase and the current one shows:
Growth in home values has been much more moderate over the current phase than in what was recorded over the housing boom of 2001-04 and this is also the case across all capital cities.

The 2001 to 2004 growth phase was broad occurring in all capital cities where the current phase is characterised as being quite narrow, focussed mainly on Sydney and Melbourne. Importantly, the growth trend in the previous growth phase started in Melbourne and Sydney before rippling to the other capital cities.
Transaction volumes for houses and units have been significantly lower over the current growth phase compared to the previous phase (despite a larger population and higher overseas migration).

Standard variable mortgage rates have typically been much lower over the current growth phase than they were in 2001 to 2004 with rates consistently at record lows for the past 16 months.
The rate of growth in housing credit has been much more moderate over the current growth phase compared to the 2001-04 boom phase.

Although the rate of credit growth is slower now than before, so too is the value of housing credit increases albeit the gap between 2001 and 2004 and the current phase is much narrower.
On a monthly basis we are currently approving more dwellings for construction than we were in 2001 to 2004. Keep in mind that we are also approving a lot more units than we were in 2001 to 2004 and unit approvals have proven to be less likely to ultimately be constructed than houses.
Net long-term and permanent arrivals have been significantly greater over the current growth phase than they were between 2001 and 2004.

The 2001 to 2004 boom period coincided with a significant rise in housing and household leverage along with a jump in housing assets. Whilst each of these factors have also increased over the current growth phase the slope of the increase has been much more moderate.  Furthermore over the current phase the ratio of housing assets to household income has increased by a greater amount than household and housing debt to disposable income while in 2001 to 2004 it increased at a slower pace.

Debate around the sustainability of home value growth over the current growth cycle is healthy and warranted, however some lessons can be learnt from how the housing market performed during an even stronger and longer growth phase over the period from 2001 to 2004.  As interest rates rose, housing market exuberance was gradually quelled.  Values didn’t plummet, but they did retreat in Sydney and growth rates flattened out in most other cities.  Australian households are now more sensitive to the cost of debt, with the ratio of disposable income to household debt at record highs which means the market will probably respond even more swiftly to any perception of interest changes ahead.

Importantly we are already seeing the housing market move through the peak rate of growth.  The CoreLogic RP Data Home Value Index peaked in April this year and the rolling annual rate of capital gain has been drifting lower since that time.  Transaction numbers have also levelled, as has the average selling time of a home, the rate of vendor discounting and growth in housing credit.  Our expectations looking forward are that growth rates will continue to drift lower, at least at a macro level due to natural affordability pressures, compressed rental yields and further warnings on speculative investment from the RBA.




















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