Uren turns bearish on Australian property

By Leith van Onselen

I came across an interesting article yesterday by The Cupboard’s Economics Editor, David Uren, entitled: Australian housing market just a jobs crisis away from collapse. It is one of the more bearish pieces we’ve seen in the increasingly circumspect MSM recently. Let’s take a look:

STOCKS of unsold apartments and houses are growing as buyers desert the housing market.

While the rate cuts late last year helped to stabilise property prices, the market remains vulnerable and would be threatened by any rise in unemployment.

Australia has so far been saved from the kind of housing market collapse witnessed in the US, Britain, Spain and Ireland by the lack of forced sellers.

People are putting their houses up for sale and, when buyers do not turn up, leaving them on the market. The numbers of vendors accepting more realistic offers has resulted in the slow downward drift in house prices in the past year.

Turnover in the market is at a 16-year low, with RP Data counting only 375,000 properties sold last year. In more normal times, sales were over 600,000 a year.
While turnover is down, the number of properties listed for sale is climbing ever higher, standing at about 310,000 properties. This is up 23 per cent on a year ago and more than 50 per cent above pre-global financial crisis levels.

The market has about 10 months’ supply of housing for sale, up from a more normal level of four months. If you’ve noticed a number of “for sale” signs in your street for months, this is why.

First, the below chart shows that housing transaction in calendar year 2011 were the lowest in 15 years and 25% lower than it has been on average over each of the last 10 years:

And the below chart shows the sharp rise in the number of homes for sale:

Finally, the lower housing demand and increased supply has resulted in the drift downward of Australian capital city home prices, which were down -5.5% from peak as at February 2012:

Back to Uren:

The situation is worse in the market for new homes. Construction started on only 33,700 new properties in the December quarter. Australia first started building this many houses a quarter in 1970, when the national population was just 12.5 million.

The total has been falling since the financial crisis stimulus-related work started winding down in June 2010, with a 25 per cent fall since then. The Housing Industry Association’s count of new home sales has fallen by one-third in the same period.

There are different state stories. Victoria is coming off an elevated level, while sharp price falls in southeast Queensland have greatly reduced new home building there. NSW has been falling since 2004, while Western Australia suffered serious over-building five years ago.

Indeed, one of the most disappointing features of the Australian housing market has been the complete lack of a supply response as house prices rose and Australia’s population grew. As argued by Uren, and shown by the below chart, dwelling commencements were as high in the December quarter of 1970 as they were in December 2011, despite Australia’s population being nearly twice as large now as it was then:

Of course, Australia’s recent housing construction performance has not been uniform, with Victorian building levels remaining elevated whilst New South Wales and Queensland’s, in particular, has remained depressed:

Back to Uren:

The odd thing about the housing downturn is that it is occurring at a time of low unemployment, healthy income growth and improving housing affordability.

The idea of the cautious consumer has entered economic commentary as an explanation for the sharp fall in household borrowing growth, increased household savings and the weak state of retail spending.

Reserve Bank of Australia deputy governor Philip Lowe has noted that changes in consumer behaviour started to become evident in the mid-2000s. One indicator was that the run-down in the number of people ahead of repayments on their mortgage, which had been under way for the previous 15 years, stopped. The extent of borrowing against the home for spending also fell.

Lowe speculates that the extended period of high debt and spending and low saving was a period of adjustment to the era of low interest rates and financial innovation that had run its course by 2005, and what we see now is the new normal. But the GFC entrenched the change in mood, bringing to an end an era in which people believed they could inflate their earnings and save for the future by relying on capital gains.

As we at MacroBusiness have argued many times before, the run-down in savings over the 1990s and 2000s was an aberation. Household savings rates have now returned to their long-run trend and are likely to remain that way for the forseeable future:

The era whereby Australians borrowed heavily against the equity in their homes is also over, as shown by the below RBA chart:

Back to Uren:

Reduced population growth in the past two years has also dampened demand. Many analysts believe the caution about taking on mortgage debt is repressing the formation of new households, keeping adult children at home longer.

The best indicator of demand in the housing market is the number of mortgage loan approvals. This is down by one-quarter from 2009, when government stimulus programs brought first-home buyers into the market, and from the pre-GFC level.

There had been some improvement in the latter half of last year, helped by the Reserve Bank rate cuts in November and December, but January’s approvals were again weak and the industry expects the increase in mortgage rates by the banks after the February Reserve Bank board meeting to further reduce demand.

Auction clearance rates have come down by about 10 percentage points in Melbourne and Sydney since the banks moved their rates last month, even though the move was just 10 basis points.

Not only are fewer loans being written, people are borrowing less. The average loan size last month of $291,300 was the lowest in two years.

As noted last week, the number of owner-occupied housing finance commitments are depressed at around 12% below the five-year moving average (see below chart):

Later, Uren turns to Australia’s worsening employment outlook and what it might mean for Australian house prices:

People losing their jobs or running into trouble with their own small business is the main cause of people falling behind on their mortgage. Forced loss of employment has been very low until now.

The messages on the labour market are mixed. Job advertisements are gaining strength, but households are increasingly pessimistic.

Westpac and the Melbourne Institute’s unemployment expectations index is approaching the level seen during the introduction of the GST in 2000.

The Reserve Bank and the government expect unemployment to rise slightly from 5.3 per cent to 5.5 per cent. The Reserve Bank is unlikely to be spooked into interest rate cuts by a couple of poor labour force reports, as it already expects them.

The danger for the bank is that it leaves rates too high for too long, and the jobless rate rises further than it expects.

Rising unemployment could unleash a wave of distressed sales in the housing market. With the fundamentals of housing supply and demand already so weak, the price movement could be much larger than the present downward drift, with which the Reserve Bank appears comfortable.

Clearly, Australia’s employment outlook has worsened, with almost no jobs created nationally over the past 12 months and Australia’s two most populous states – New South Wales and Victoria - actually losing jobs:

There are also unresolved questions around whether the official Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) measure of unemployment could converge towards the unofficial Roy Morgan measure, which has shown a much larger increase recently:

Uren’s analysis is reasonably argued and there is solid evidence to back his assessment of the risks.

unconventionaleconomist@hotmail.com

www.twitter.com/Leithvo

86 Responses to “ “Uren turns bearish on Australian property”

  1. GB says:

    “Indeed, one of the most disappointing features of the Australian housing market has been the complete lack of a supply response as house prices rose and Australia’s population grew”

    not according to my numbers UE. i beleive this one of the biggest vested interest con job arguments for a “housing shortage” of all. that its all demand and no supply.

    according to ABS there were about 7 million occupied dwellings in in 1998. in 2010 there were 8.5 million occupied dwellings. thats a massive 20% increase in housing stock in just over a decade. in other words, a residential construction boom that has more than kept up with the population growth as the number of people per occupied dwelling is roughly the same as it was back in 1998 at 2.65 people per dwelling.

    i could be wrong so happy to hear your thoughts on this.

    • I am no fan of the ‘housing shortage’ argument either, as explained here. Nevertheless, in a ‘normal’ market, the supply of something should increase when price increases. This did not happened in Australia – we got absolutely no lift in housing construction during the biggest house price boom in Australia’s history.

      • Greconomics says:

        Yes, don’t you know? It’s called a “heavily unionised labour force” – it restricts output causing increases in price, thereby stabilising total dollar value of output (at much lower input / effort). It’s great (for anyone lucky enough to be part of the unionised labour force). Too bad for the rest of the chumps who have to be productive and generate efficiency gains to grow total dollar value of output.

      • spleenblatt says:

        Just to be clear – you are blaming construction related unions for the failure of housing supply to increase ?

      • Greconomics says:

        BINGO!

      • spleenblatt says:

        IPA ground troops normally congregate in comments section over here …

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/thedrum/

      • General Disarray says:

        Got any stats to back that up?

      • I don’t agree with this at all. Construction costs have barely moved in real terms. It’s land costs that have boomed, which has pushed-up the cost of new homes. You should blame restrictive planning and land-use regulations before blaming unionised labour.

      • jelmech@bigpond.com says:

        ker ching on the money UE

      • Gen Y Ranter says:

        I really wanted to write this, completely agree

      • Mav says:

        +1 This and supply constraint created by restrictive project financing by the banks, possibly a deliberate strategy on their part.

        I am not saying banks should have lent willy nilly to developers, like in Ireland.

      • raveswei says:

        land hoarding is the reason why construction didn’t increase. On the other hand we entered bubble stage with huge overbuilding (between 1995 and 2000 we built 60% more dwellings that were needed). It was very hard to increase already record breaking construction of homes nobody needs.

        I explained supply and demand issues in details on my blog.
        http://popping-bubble.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/australian-residential-housing-demand.html

      • The Claw says:

        TP: Edit – not going to say this again Claw. Your TP:Edit: mistake has been pointed out before, yet you persist.

        Let’s keep this civil.

      • GB says:

        “the reason why construction didn’t increase.” this idea that housing construction hasnt increased is ludicrous. but you cant have it both ways. if residential construction hasnt increased as you say (but in reality it has) then its not a “bubble” as the price rises are justified by the fundamentals of a demand supply imbalance.

      • GB says:

        what about the 20% increase in occupied dwellings? where did they come from if they wernt built? there has been a residential construction boom.

      • GB says:

        look at the outer subburbs of melbourne, brisbane, perth. dont tell me there hasnt been a supply response.

      • The Claw says:

        Look at rents and admit the supply response is inadequate.

      • GB says:

        look at the surge in houses for sale, in other words, unwanted homes. supply response has been more than adequate

      • GB. You are confussing the actual number of homes built with the number of homes for sale. These are two different things.

      • GB says:

        im well aware of that UE.

      • The Claw says:

        Young families want shelter (rent or buy) at a fair price.
        They do not care about number of properties for sale if the price is too high.
        There could be 1 million houses for sale on the moon, but these do not provide affordable shelter in say Sydney. Only adequate supply of these, witnessed by low price, will satisfy the need for shelter.

      • GB says:

        move to melbourne then, plenty of vacant houses here. in a real shortage people move to where the supply is. are people around the country (from sydney) moving becuase they cant find shelter? no they are not. if you are getting ripped off by your agent, move somehwere cheaper and stop whinging.

      • The Claw says:

        Typical rant from a shortage-denier. Nothing constructive. Just arrogant denial followed by personal abuse.

      • Hugh Pavletich says:

        Leith – thank you for a superb article and too GB for the points you raise.

        Our Antipodean bubble housing markets are of course abnormal – while say those in Texas are normal with the capacity to meet demand with new supply rapidly, so that housing inflation is not triggered.

        Comparing the volume of new supply that has gone in to both Texas and Australia adjusted for population changes as well these past 10 years, may assist in assessing how under or over supplied Australia is.

        But like California, bubble markets are lethal – and I think you will find that there are less houses on a population basis in California than there are in Texas. In California there were just 37,000 new residential units put in place as I recall for a population of 37 million during 2009 – a woeful build rate of just 1 / 1000 population. Australia is currently running at about 6 / 1000.

        There is much to learn from the normal Texas and abnormal California housing markets these past 10 years.

        Hugh Pavletich – Co author – Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey
        http://www.PerformanceUrbanPlanning.org

      • PhilBest says:

        I do try and explain on here, every so often, that it IS possible to have increased “supply” AND inflated prices of land for development. Ireland did it, Phoenix Arizona did it, and Las Vegas Nevada. It all depends on the PROCESS by which land for development is brought onto the market. Hardly anyone understands this.

        The real reason that many States of the USA did not have any house price bubble at all, is not just that they had “good supply” of housing, but that “supply” of LAND was not restricted in any way, so that land bankers were not able to “corner” the “supply”.

        Even quite substantial quantities of land in “years of supply” terms can still be cornered by land bankers, if the land for those “X years of supply” is the absolute TOTAL that everybody KNOWS is going to be permitted for building. But in terms of the quantity of land accessible by a few minutes car drive beyond the urban fringe, the “X years supply” that the planners allow for is actually quite a small fraction of this.

        In any market where there are basically no restrictions at all; anyone can buy rural land anywhere and convert it to housing, it is impossible to have a house price bubble simply because it is impossible for land bankers to corner all the land that is accessible by a few minutes car drive (and still make money – because THIS land will be literally 100 years supply or more, for urban growth). There will always be opportunity for a competitive developer to under-cut the “oligopoly”, and this opportunity is always exercised by someone (which is why the oligopolists HATE “freedom to build”).

        Markets where “supply” was high as well as price, have the fastest crashes of all.

    • The Claw says:

      GB, you have made a classic statistical blunder. You have ignored the victims. Indeed there are enough houses for the rich people who can afford to buy them. Your “analysis” ignores the poorer people forced away by the high prices caused by the shortage.

      • Velociraptor says:

        Do you know you can buy a new BMW 760Li in Oz for $390K AUD and a new one in Germany (or UK or etc etc)for $160-170K AUD?

      • The Claw says:

        I know that. BMW has decided to deliberately price-out certain buyers of its product. The high price prevents them from buying. Luckily for them they can obtain decent transport from other suppliers.
        Sadly this is not the case for first home buyers in Sydney.
        Oh, what was your point?

      • Lori says:

        The point is that a professional with 90k AUD salary can’t afford to buy a home in Sydney unless traveling like and idiot for more than 2 hours for work. If we include the car and its consumptives, then the picture is very grim. Sydney is like a nightmare city with its house prices. And the quality of most houses for rent is terrible.

  2. Diogenes the Cynic says:

    Everyone seems to forget that in a recession the number of persons per household goes up! Happening in the USA as parents move in with kids, kids move back in with parents, friends come and stay, brothers take a room etc. This will worsen the supply problem when things get really dire in the property market.

    Historically people lived in much higher densities and with much less personal housing space per capita, I have some old documents floating around I will see if I can dig them up…we do not have a national housing shortage (I will admit we may have localised shortages in some mining towns).

    • Spot on. This is why the argument that ‘high underlying demand means higher house prices’ is complete rubbish, as explained here.

      • aj. says:

        Nice piece – good to read it again…

        That quote from the WSJ in 2005 is just eery in the Aussie context:

        “There is no housing bubble in this country. Our strong housing market is a function of myriad factors with real economic underpinnings: low interest rates, local job growth, the emotional attachment one has for one’s home, one’s view of one’s future earning- power, and parental contributions, all have done their part to contribute to rising home prices… What we do have is a serious housing shortage and housing affordability crisis.”

  3. jimbo says:

    Sobering piece. But he’s another Economic talking head who can’t see the forest for the trees.

    His article should have been titled ‘A housing and credit boom away from a jobs crisis’. Do some research first David Uren.

    • gtempo says:

      +1

      The notion that unemployment brings about the fall in prices has been disproved several times before. Fall in prices is the trigger for unemployment ant not vice versa.

      I am happy that the MSM seem to have gotten the difference between value and prices now. Or is it that prices fall and values always rise ;)

      -gt

      • JPK says:

        > Fall in prices is the trigger for unemployment ant not vice versa.

        However, once this process starts we have a feedback loop. The higher the unemployment, the lower the prices, the lower the prices the higher the unemployment and so it goes.

  4. My how the entrail readings have changed. A blip no longer.

    Land prices are going down the gurgler and the RBA sits. Swan and Gillard better have a loooong list of shovel ready infrastructure projects one signature from immediate start.

    Also, check Zappone on negative equity:
    http://m.smh.com.au/business/homes-with-negative-equity-on-the-increase-20120320-1vhe3.html

    Don’t Buy Now!

    • Rusty Penny says:

      Land prices are going down the gurgler and the RBA sits. Swan and Gillard better have a loooong list of shovel ready infrastructure projects one signature from immediate start.

      I would actually be inclined to think they do.

      They got good advice regarding how to stop falling into recession in 2008. Some ideologues will pan the BER and the insulation program, but independent analysis after the event showed they were both reasonably effective and costed well under the circumstances.

      Where this connects with my assumption is that at the time, a fund manager we knew loaded up on Crane Group, thinking the group would be privy to plenty of stimulus work, they had tendered for covering waterways to reduce loss to evaporation.

      Nice, simply, shovel ready.

      They didn’t get any stimulus work because they fell apart in one area.

      Labour intensity.

      It made me pay much more attention to Bill Mitchell’s work after that.

      Now Rudd’s essay in 2008 (or 9) showed some degree of understanding of events is occuring in the PM’s office, the ALP or treasurey, albeit the essay placed another ideological stance to ‘fix it’.

      But I’m sure they are aware somewhere we are not out of the woods, and I would gather they do have shovel ready plans, in light of the dearth of ANY plans left by the coalition in 2007.

      • I agree, Rusty. I think Swan’s filing cabinets are full of shovel-readys.

        I look at the bureaucrats’ extraordinary performance orchestrating ~20 years without a formal recession and place great confidence in their ability to navigate the big slump in land prices ahead.

        20 years of virtually unbroken growth means there is much rotten vegetation that only a recession can clear away. I expect to see many agile moves, combining good statistical analysis and far-sighted appreciation of the national interest.

        It is up to the individuals who attend this forum to ensure the cost of adjustment falls where it ought – contesting vested interests and the government’s understandable willingness to attend to squeaky wheels.

      • spleenblatt says:

        “cost of adjustment falls where it ought”

        As in, lower bank profits ? I don’t think you’ll get much push back against those particular institutional shareholder vested interests.

      • Rusty Penny says:

        It is up to the individuals who attend this forum to ensure the cost of adjustment falls where it ought – contesting vested interests and the government’s understandable willingness to attend to squeaky wheels.

        Now that’s the part I don’t have faith in, and why I think we’re better served with an immense crash rather than a slow melt.

      • spleenblatt says:

        See you in the bread queues, then. I’ll keep an eye out for the Macrobusiness t-shirts.

      • vonZetty says:

        Quite agree with Rusty P. I’ll rather take the immense crush than the slow melt. Why? There are a few reasons.
        1. I’m a saver and a slow crush will penalise me and help the ones that contributed to this situation we find ourselves in today.
        2. I’m sick of the bull $it and status quo preservation effort
        3. I don’t mind sitting on the bread queue. You’ll be there with me having had to sell your 20 NG properties (this is just a joke)

      • Rusty Penny says:

        OK, I like bread.

        But out of the ashes, the rent seekers and parasites do not have the capability to shape policy.

        Without an entrenched position and their greasing of wheels with ill-gotten gain, they are useless.

      • spleenblatt says:

        Maybe it’ll be sushi queues this time around. The rent-seeking and parasitic virus is pretty resilient, not sure anything short of the chemical castration of all and sundry will arrest its propagation – such is the way of utopian thinking. Gonna be a lot of dead bodies in those ashes.

      • flawse says:

        The loose fiscal policies (or ‘stimulation’ required the support of massive overseas borrowings. Swan toured the world bragging that we soaked up 15% of the world saving post GFC. My memory tells me that our borrowings and assets sales amounted to some $100B.

        So you can want shovel ready programnes etc. Just be willing to sell off more mines, rural land and core industries to support them.

        Anyone doubts this please read DE’s recent posts.

        Mitchell’s work assumes an infinite amount of foreign money available at zero interest rates. “It never has to be repaid” He is wrong.

      • Explorer says:

        I think you have misunderstood Bill Mitchell’s work.

        He accepts Modern Monetary Theory. Australia doesn’t really need foreign funds (although in traditional economics and finance that is the way we approach it).

        The government can create all the AUD it wants to spend, taxation is just for maintaining social harmony and preventing the rich from owning everything. Taxes (and borrowings from overseas) are not needed to fund anything.

        Any debt or other obligations denominated in AUD can be re/paid by the government any time it likes because it creates the currency. It is not that they never have to be re/paid.

        The limiting factors are inflation and confidence.

        Bill argues that in those circumstances government can maximise overall wellbeing by keeping “full” employment eg by renewing or adding to infrastructure, providing additional services to the community etc.

    • gtempo says:

      I read the original post in The Australian yesterday and noticed that the money section in the SMH has run articles on retirees going into retirement with big debts.

      There’s also an article by John Collet today on how big the fall will be due to the slow down in China.

      I love to be a cashed up buyer now.

      -gt

    • Jack says:

      Whats the bet they consult Chris Joye again and listen to Mark Bouris and have the Federal govt become the source of lower cost capital for the banks to lend at lower rates. I can see this appealing to Abbot if he was to get in

      • Mav says:

        In case you didn’t notice, Chris Joye and Mark Bouris are anti-big bank. Why? Because they have their own Sydney Harbour bridge to sell to taxpayers, called government guaranteed RMBS market.

        I hope MB and others will use some Jujitsu to play one vested interests against the other and take care of taxpayers interest.

  5. Schillers says:

    “The odd thing about the housing downturn is that it is occurring at a time of low unemployment, healthy income growth”.
    Possibly…but I’ve noticed an increase in Melbourne in the number of people with less income, lower wages, reduced bonuses, less overtime, etc. Still employed, sure, but not earning what they were used too a few years ago. Could the ‘healthy income growth’ be skewed by big increases to miners whilst for many working along the eastern seaboard their income is going backwards?

    • Booga says:

      +1
      Absolutely no doubt about it. It will be interesting if wages growth can be broken down by sectors.

    • Jumping jack flash says:

      Certainly.

      Since wages have been paid largely through debt (direct borrowing by businesses or customer’s debt spending) rather than increased productivity for the past decade or so, and debt is shrinking, I would expect wages to also shrink, or, unemployment rise.

      Maybe both?

    • Junkyard says:

      +1
      Amongst friends and family, only those in mining and banking are still seeing healthy growth in income.

      For everyone else, non discretionary costs like insurance, public transport, healthcare, and utilities are running at double inflation. Eating up that wage growth.

  6. Christiaan says:

    “Land prices are going down the gurgler and the RBA sits. Swan and Gillard better have a loooong list of shovel ready infrastructure projects one signature from immediate start.”

    +1

  7. AB says:

    Can someone explain this to me? Surely house price falls mean that people then are carrying more debt relative to the value of their home.

    “The saving grace in the housing market is that arrears rates remain low. An analysis by Moody’s shows there is little relationship between house price falls and arrears, which appear to be more closely related to how much debt people are carrying relative to the value of their home.”

  8. Janet says:

    At last; some sober thinking,”..bringing to an end an era in which people believed they could … save for the future by relying on capital gains”.

  9. Sean G says:

    A squishy rental market is a more obvious side-affect, at least where I live in inner Melb. There’s quite a few blocks of flats near my house with “For Lease” signs out the front that just never seem to go away; there are other blocks where I’m aware that they aren’t allowed to have such signs out the front because the body corporate forbids it (but you can still find them on the internet). The other thing that suggests problems on the hoizon is the completion of really large blocks (10+ stories) just down the street from these exisiting flats that can only have a depressing affect on prices/rents as they come onto the market.

    I really wouldn’t want to be a negatively geared landlord with flats/units in inner Melbourne; it’s obvious that with increasing unemployment it will only get more difficult to sustain yeilds.

    • brad says:

      Negatively geared properties have a yield?

      • Janet says:

        Did you miss that bit at the last “Get Rich from Property” seminar, Brad. It’s only the gross yield that matters!(annoying details like current costs are absorbed by the capital gains of the future – which, by the way, are assured)

      • Sean G says:

        Yeah I should have used “rents” instead of “yeilds”. But the real reason why they hang onto these properties (as we all know) is the capital gain.

      • brad says:

        I have a friend who bought an investment property (apartment in Melb eastern suburbs) about a year ago for around $700k in a building where equivalent apartments are now selling for $630k. I’ve made a few careful enquiries as to the financing behind this (don’t want to seem too nosy) and as far as I can tell he put 10% down and is renting it out for about $1500 per month less than his mortgage payments.
        I don’t have the heart to tell him he has so far made a loss of approx 150%. He’s quite convinced he’s doing a good thing – his accountant is telling him about how much tax he’s saving. He’s a smart guy but just hasn’t run the numbers.

      • jelmech@bigpond.com says:

        Posts like this make me feel old.

        $700k??? for an apartment???

        Hells teeth.

      • Jack says:

        I was taking to an accountant who geared a property in 2006 and the property is now worth less than what it was then, but is still convinced it is good investment because of the tax deductions.

      • Alex Heyworth says:

        In my experience a lot of people who invest in property have an unhealthy obsession with tax minimisation. They will frequently do things that result in them making a loss, just so they can reduce their tax.

      • darklydrawl says:

        I find that way of thinking rather funny.

        I would rather have a tax problem than an income problem anyday.

        Paying tax isn’t a bad thing if it means you are making gobs of money.

        Losing money to avoid paying tax seems rather strange to me… But maybe I need more education in this area(?)

      • boyracer says:

        In my younger days when the topic turned to tax I always used to declare I would love to pay a million dollars a year in tax.

        Most people would look at me horrified.

        I had to insist they think about it.

        I suppose most still don’t get it.

      • spleenblatt says:

        It is strange (to say the least) when there are no commensurate capital gains in prospect. I would say you are sufficiently educated !

      • Bakunin says:

        You’re such a good friend Brad…

        BTW, how long will it take for property prices to double from their peak reached in 2009? Any takers?

      • Alex Heyworth says:

        50+ years.

      • brad says:

        I actually heard my friend’s wife say she would rather pay money to the bank than to the ATO. Personally I’d rather keep it (which is what I do). At least my friend is on a massive income so it’s not going to bankrupt them. Last time I saw them they were talking about buying a beach house…..

      • alien says:

        Re: brad

        some smarter investors who expected a huge capital gain now selling properties with loss.

        e.g. this one in Sydney, bought on auction Nov 2009:
        http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=9+Cannons+Parade,+Forestville,+New+South+Wales&hl=en&ll=-33.764985,151.213117&spn=0.0071,0.009645&sll=-33.764448,151.212472&layer=c&cbp=13,191.08,,0,0&cbll=-33.764134,151.212546&hnear=9+Cannons+Parade,+Forestville+New+South+Wales+2087&t=m&z=17&panoid=bJa78Egy5dkFOfV7bMcjPA

        for $1,235,000
        http://www.onthehouse.com.au/buy/property/42190438?PageNr=1

        the original house being knocked down and a new one built there – after more than 2 years and failed auction this Feruary now being sold for $1,350,000

        http://www.mackinnonestateagents.com.au/property-House-NSW-Forestville-1837172

        where the house itself costs more than 200K http://www.bellmarch.com.au/Product_Detail.aspx?par=48&Cat=49&Prod=137

        My anecdotal evidence. Run if you can!

      • jimbo says:

        Alien, great anecdote. We’ll see many more in due course I’m sure. As to that build price, generally add $120-$200K to the quoted, base advertised price, especially when there’s a knock down involved. I’d say $350K absolute minimum on that one. That project would owe them over $1.7m give or take.

      • brad says:

        Wow, that’s a really ugly house! I don’t know the area but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t hand over 7 figures for it.

    • Junkyard says:

      Yep, the old “For Lease” signs have started breeding like rabbits in Melb. The damn things are starting to pop up all over.

      Haven’t seen them for almost 10 years now.

  10. aj. says:

    Amazing – it is now actually really looking like the property boom in Aus has finally started to flare out – the Sydney disease that started slowly and spread like a wild-fire across the country (even burning out in little country towns and regional areas) is starting to clear.

    We can now stand back and look at the carnage to middle-class savings, the debt baggage landed on the generation that was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the thoughtless destruction of our urban and coastal amenity. It’s not a particularly pretty sight.

  11. avexdevil says:

    seems like the general populace is declining towards a bearish property market. what with consumer belt tightening and propensity to save than spend when employment is showing slight improvements and affordability is at an all time high. Consumer sentiment is killing the economy, no one say otherwise.

    • DrBob127 says:

      No, consumer sentiment is returning to it’s long term behaviour. It is the industries that developed and relied on the high-spending and no-saving consumer that are currently in trouble.

      “affordability is at an all time high”

      pull the other one

  12. Snail Cafe says:

    Hmm thanks everyone for great post and comments…my dollars worth is, Yep we are in a slow melt for sure re house prices and higher unemployment..but I also read from official Chinese mutterings is that they are in a bit of a slow melt also and they have heaps and heaps of our ore stashed away, so…as DC says “Don’t buy now”

  13. Great post thanks UE.

  14. MsSolarFelineAU says:

    Thankyou UE. It is good that the MSM is daring to cotton on to the obvious. I do love coming here to read analysis of contraian view-points pertaining to our little island, compared to other blogs/sites.
    Real savings are cash and au & ag in one’s mitts.
    Digi-dollars can disappear in the blink of an eye when banks have computing “problems”.
    Just thinkin’ out loud… :-)

  15. Jackson says:

    Great post UE. That 4 year cycle in the dwelling commencements chart is astonishing – any thoughts as to the cause?