Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quick housing update and forecasts

The residential property bears breathed a sigh of relief with the release of the monthly RPData hedonic price index for June - down 0.7% (with Brisbane prices down 1.3%). The bulls however are happy enough with the 20% capital growth performance since June 2009.

In light of this, Steve Keen has laid out his forecast of things to come in residential property:

Firstly, with an increased stock of unsold houses on the market, buyers are likely to take yet more time to make a decision—which will add further to the backlog. If prices are falling, why hurry? The urgency will leave the buy side.

Secondly, so-called investors—whom I prefer to call speculators, since 90% of them have bought existing properties rather than built new ones—will start to consider whether they should swap from the buy side to the sell side. After all, no-one in their right mind buys an investment property in Australia for the rental returns: it’s capital gains or nothing DownUnder. Do you capitalize on gains to date, or hang on hoping that the upward trend will re-assert itself once more?

I expect these two processes to lead to an accelerating rate of decline in house prices now, as they did in the USA when “Flip That House” ceased being a winning trade.

Chris Joye has made a typically broad prediction:

Rismark had been forecasting a substantial deceleration in housing conditions back to single-digit annualised growth rates since October 2009. Over the long-run, house prices track purchasing power quite closely. Disposable household incomes were only projected to rise by about 5 per cent in 2010. We’ve had 4.7 per cent growth in dwelling values in the year-to-date. We do not, therefore, expect to see the market rise much further over the remaining year subject to labour market conditions and the course of monetary policy.

Interestingly, Joye notes the decline in housing credit outstanding, but does not seem to believe this will strongly influence prices in the near term.

Finally, over at Delusional Economics we have this gem:
There is no "soft landing" for a debt driven economy that suddenly decides to shun debt

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