Sydney house prices rose by $1000 a day in 2021

Sydney house prices rose 29.6 per cent in 2021, adding nearly $1000 each day or a total of $359,616 in 12 months, while Canberra prices climbed by about $700 daily, in a year of extraordinary property price growth, the CoreLogic December home value index shows.

All capitals posted healthy yearly gains, but the markets have started to diverge, as poor affordability and a flood of listings dampened growth in Sydney and Melbourne, while the smaller and cheaper capitals powered ahead.

Brisbane house prices climbed 30.4 per cent or $253,292 over the year, Melbourne rose by $197,948 or a gain of 17.9 per cent and Adelaide’s prices increased by $117,326 – a 25.8 per cent jump during the same period.

Hobart added $195,725 or 26.7 per cent, Darwin gained $67,858 or 12.4 per cent and Perth by $62,203 or 13.3 per cent. Nationally, house prices rose by $191,505 or a 24.5 per cent increase.

Housing markets started to split in the last three months of the year, with Brisbane’s median dwelling values rising 8.5 per cent and Adelaide by 7.2 per cent.

By contrast, Sydney added just 2.7 per cent, while Melbourne gained 1.5 per cent. Canberra lifted by 4 per cent and Hobart by 4 per 4.2 per cent. Perth rose 0.4 per cent and Darwin by 0.7 per cent over the same period.

“The divergence is just stark – you can really see Brisbane and Adelaide gathering momentum on the back of stronger demand, lower supply and better affordability, while Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are clearly losing momentum and have been doing so for some time,” said Tim Lawless, CoreLogic research director.

“I think arguably there is some element of catch-up here, but I would be surprised if these markets that are gathering momentum like Brisbane and Adelaide could continue to do so for much longer simply because they’ll also start to run into the same challenges that Sydney and Melbourne have experienced around affordability and higher listings as more vendors take advantage of the very strong, selling conditions.”

Mr Lawless said it was normal for Sydney and Melbourne as well as the upper end of the market to lead the slowdown as they were farther ahead into the housing cycle.

“When you look through the cycles every time, they are generally led by Sydney and Melbourne and by the top end,” he said.

“We have seen this trend in previous growth cycles, where more expensive housing markets have shown greater levels of volatility; housing values tend to rise more through the upswing but record a larger decline through the down phase of the cycle.”

Across the combined capitals, upper quartile dwelling values increased 2.6 per cent in October-December compared with a 3.7 per cent rise across the lower quartile and broad middle of the market.

Looking ahead, Mr Lawless said the surging omicron cases across the country could dent sentiment and potentially slow price growth further in the next few months.

“I think if we do start to see the surge in omicron cases impacting consumer sentiment, then that will play out as a downside risk for housing markets because we know that sentiment and housing activity are highly correlated, which isn’t surprising,” he said.

“If we start to see people becoming more uncertain about the economic trajectory of Australia’s recovery or their labour market prospects or simply consumer abilities to be socially mobile, then that’s probably going to have a negative impact on confidence.

“Even if we didn’t see any policy changes related to COVID-19 restrictions such as ban on property inspections, for example, there is still some downside element from the surging in COVID cases simply through consumer confidence being eroded.”

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