Despite ongoing lockdowns suppressing market activity in some states, demand to buy property remains at close to record levels.

Prices continued to climb in every state and territory over August as buyer demand continued to outpace the supply of new listings. Those properties that are listed are seeing record views, and increased competition means buyers are moving faster in order to be successful.

A ban on in-person inspections has weighed on sales volumes in Victoria. Picture: Getty.

Investors are responsible for a growing proportion of this demand, whereas first home buyers are continuing to wind back. According to the latest ABS data, the value of new loans to investors rose for the ninth consecutive quarter in July. New investor loans are now 121% higher than their lowest point in June last year. In contrast, new loans to first home buyers fell by almost 8% in both June and July.

Many regional markets are continuing to outperform their capital city counterparts for price growth, supported by record levels of migration from metro areas into the regions. Recent demand indicators show that growth in views per listing has been stronger in the regions than the cities, and the fall in time taken to sell has been greater.

As we head into spring, market conditions will be heavily influenced by the presence of COVID-19 restrictions. While sales activity is likely to be suppressed in Victoria and New South Wales until restrictions ease, those states unencumbered by lockdowns are likely to see sales volumes rise.

While sales volumes remain below the April peak, they are well above the levels typically seen at this time of year. Year-to-date, sales volumes are 50.7% higher compared to the same period a year ago, and 63.6% higher compared to 2019.

This is a remarkable result given lockdown measures restricting physical inspections have been in place for over two months in Australia’s two most populous states, Victoria and New South Wales.

It’s likely many would-be vendors are delaying bringing their properties to market, particularly in Victoria where physical inspections are banned. However, once vaccine thresholds are met and these restrictions can be eased, we are likely to see sales volumes lift.

The Victorian government announced that from Saturday 18 September, home inspections will be allowed by private appointment only, restricted to one household at a time with the agent staying outdoors during the inspection.

How property is faring around the country

Let’s look at how market conditions are faring throughout the states and territories.


New South Wales 

Despite the ongoing lockdown, demand for property is continuing to push prices higher in New South Wales. Price growth in the rest of New South Wales has continued to outpace Greater Sydney, supported by the growing preference for scenic lifestyle suburbs in regional areas.

Sales volumes

Weekly preliminary sales volumes, which typically begin picking up at the beginning of spring, have instead drifted lower in New South Wales as lockdowns persist. Despite this, the strong volumes seen over the first half of the year mean that, year-to-date, sales are 43.6% higher than the same period last year, and 60.3% higher than in 2019.

Days on site

Despite the ongoing lockdown, buyer demand remains strong in New South Wales, with the median time a property is listed on realestate.com.au before selling hovering close to record lows. Properties in New South Wales took a median of 30 days to sell in August, down from 31 in July, and 42 a year ago. This result was second only to the Australian Capital Territory. Suburbs in Sydney’s outer southwest and the Illawarra region sold fastest on average.

Views per listing

The average number of views a property listed for sale in New South Wales received over August was 2,139. While below the peak levels seen earlier this year, this reflected growth of 3% from July, and 37% year-on-year. In regional New South Wales, however, August recorded the highest level of views per listing on record. At 1,918 views per ‘for sale’ listing, this represented growth of 5% over the month, and a staggering 89% over the year, evidencing the growing demand for regional property.


Victoria

Victoria is another state in which the regional property market has outperformed the capital city. Price growth in regional Victoria have more-than doubled that of Greater Melbourne over the past 12 months.

Sales volumes

Weekly preliminary sales volumes have been trending down since July in Victoria. Due to the ban on in-person inspections, the number of new ‘for sale’ listings being brought to market has fallen, which is driving down sales volumes. The high level of sales activity seen prior to the latest lockdown, however, means that year-to-date, volumes are 59.9% above last year’s levels, and 62.7% above 2019’s. Sales volumes are likely to remain suppressed over the coming months, with a 27.1% fall in the number of new ‘for sale’ listings coming to market in Greater Melbourne over August.

Days on site

The median time taken to sell a property in Victoria increased to 38 days in August, up from 33 in July. It is likely that the ban on physical inspections has led some vendors to extending the length of their selling campaigns. The state’s fastest selling regions are the Mornington Peninsula and the Outer East.

Views per listing

The growing desire for properties in regional areas can be seen in Victoria’s latest viewing figures. Between July and August, views per ‘for sale’ listing increased by 10% in regional Victoria, compared to a decline of 10% in Greater Melbourne. Across the state, views per listing averaged 1,922 in August, up 55% from 12 months ago, though 6.7% lower than July.


Queensland

Prices in Queensland are benefiting from record levels of interstate migration into the state. Rising demand has pushed prices up across both Greater Brisbane and the rest of state. Beachside suburbs, especially those on the Gold and Sunshine coasts have been among the strongest for price growth in the country.

Sales volumes

Preliminary weekly sales activity in Queensland continues to outpace historic levels, sitting 55.6% higher year-to-date compared to the same period in 2020 and 76.3% higher compared to 2019.

Days on site

Properties in Queensland took a median of 52 days to sell in August, up slightly from the 49 days taken in July. The time taken to sell a property in Queensland varied significantly by region, with Moreton Bay South, East Brisbane and the Gold Coast outpacing the rest of the state.

Views per listing

Average views per ‘for sale’ listing rose by 7.3% over August to reach a new high of 1,550. Records were broken in both Greater Brisbane and regional New South Wales, with views up 8% and 7% respectively over the month. Compared to 12 months ago, views per listing have grown by 52% in Greater Brisbane and 66% in regional Queensland.


South Australia

Unlike the east coast states, property prices in Greater Adelaide have outperformed those in regional areas. Accounting for this could be the relative affordability of Greater Adelaide compared to capital cities on the east coast, as well as fewer impacts from COVID-19.

Sales volumes

The number of properties selling in South Australia has picked up over recent weeks in line with the beginning of the Spring selling season. So far this year, preliminary weekly sales volumes are up 41.9% from last year’s levels, and 52.1% from 2019.

Days on site

The median days on site for properties for sale in South Australia decreased by one day between July and August to reach 43. Properties in Greater Adelaide sold at more than double the speed of regional areas.

Views per listing

Both Greater Adelaide and regional South Australia saw record high average views per ‘for sale’ listing in August. Across South Australia, the average number of views per listing increased to 1,818 in August, reflecting a rise of 11% over the month and 53% over the year. Compared to the regional areas, properties for sale in Greater Adelaide received more than three times the number of views, 2,592 compared to 755.


Western Australia

Property prices in Perth and regional Western Australia are continuing to climb, albeit at a lower rate compared to that seen earlier this year.

Sales volumes

The preliminary count of sales in Western Australia has trended up over the last three weeks as we move into Spring. The return to positive price growth across Western Australia has brought more vendors to the market and, year-to-date, there have been 63.1% more sales compared to 2020 and 89.6% more compared to 2019.

Days on site

The median number of days properties for sale in Western Australia spend on site has been trending upwards since June, reaching 68 in August. The median time taken to sell was faster in Greater Perth compared to the rest of Western Australia, with the exception of Mandurah which was the fastest selling region.

Views per listing

Properties for sale in Western Australia generated 802 views per listing on average in August, up 1% over the month, and 23% over the year. Over the past 12 months, properties in regional Western Australia have recorded stronger growth in views per listing compared to Greater Perth, 48% versus 14%.


Tasmania

Greater Hobart has seen stronger price growth than any other capital city in Australia over the past 12 months, with the rest of Tasmania not far behind. There has been a growing imbalance between buyer demand and the supply of properties for sale which is behind the rapid price growth.

Sales volumes

Despite the high number of buyers in market, Tasmanian property remains tightly held. In August, sales volumes remained at similar levels to those seen last year. Higher than average sales over the second quarter, however, have resulted in year-to-date volumes that are 26.1% higher than 2020, and 14.6% higher than 2019.

Days on site

The median number of days a property was listed for sale in Tasmania before selling fell for the fourth consecutive month in August, to reach 33 days. With demand continuing to outweigh the supply of properties for sale, buyers are needing to move increasingly quickly to be successful. This has particularly been the case in Greater Hobart, which is home to eight of the country’s top ten fastest selling suburbs. North Hobart was the fastest selling suburb, with a median of just seven days spent on market.

Views per listing

Further indicative of the imbalance between supply and demand, views per ‘for sale’ listing have surged in Tasmania, up 78% over the 12 months to August. Views per listing hit 3,045 in August, the highest level recorded in any state in Australia. Greater Hobart drove the growth, with views per listing sitting at 4,813 compared to 2,368 across the rest of Tasmania.


Northern Territory

Property prices in Greater Darwin have continued to grow, though regional Northern Territory has lagged.

Sales volumes

Preliminary weekly sales volumes in the Northern Territory have hovered above historic levels throughout 2021. Year-to-date, there have been 73.6% more sales compared to 2020 and 76.1% more compared to 2019.

Days on site

The median number of days a property was listed for sale in the Northern Territory before it sold increased from 65 days in July to 78 days in August. Despite the rise, this is still well below the average speed taken over the preceding four years.

Views per listing

Properties for sale in the Northern Territory received 663 views per listing in August, up 8% from March and 20% year-on-year. This growth was driven by Darwin, with views per ‘for sale’ listing declining by 0.6% in the rest of the Northern Territory over the month. Views per listing were three times higher in Darwin compared to the rest of the territory in August.


ACT

Property prices in the Australian Capital Territory continue to be supported by Canberra’s relative economic stability due to its high reliance on employment from the pandemic-resilient public sector.

Sales volumes

The preliminary count of weekly sales saw a large dip in the first week of September, as Canberra’s lockdown continues to take its toll. Sales remain high relatively to historic levels, however, sitting 23% higher year-to-date than last year, and 39.5% higher than 2019. Sales volumes are likely to fall further over September, with the number of new ‘for sale’ listings in Canberra down 35.1% over August.

Days on site

Properties in Australian Capital Territory sell faster on average than any other state or territory. In August, the median number of days a property for sale spent on site before it sold was 24, the lowest level on record, though steady on July.

Views per listing

Views per ‘for sale’ listing fell by 3.7% over the month, though this was still the second highest number of views seen in Canberra. Compared to 12 months ago, views are 29% higher, sitting at 1,781 in August.

Originally published as: PropTrack Property Market Outlook – September 2021.

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