Australia home prices heat up as super-low rates stoke demand

SYDNEY, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Australian home prices sped higher across all the major cities in November as record-low interest rates fuelled demand from first-time buyers, providing a welcome windfall to consumer wealth and confidence.

Regional prices also boasted sizable gains as city dwellers still smarting from coronavirus lockdowns sought more living space and houses with gardens.

“If housing values continue to rise at the current pace we could see a recovery from the COVID downturn as early as January or February next year,” said CoreLogic’s head of research, Tim Lawless.

That would be a remarkable turnaround from the depths of the lockdown in April when analysts were predicting price falls of 10% or more this year and next.

Data from property consultant CoreLogic out on Monday showed national home prices rose 0.8% in November, twice the gain seen in October. Values were up 3.1% on November last year.

Prices across the major capitals rose 0.7% in November, from October, lagging a 1.4% jump in the regions.

Sydney managed a gain of 0.4%, while Melbourne broke a string of falls to rise 0.7% as the city reopened from a marathon lockdown.

The recovery was led by cities that have been largely COVID-free for some time. Values climbed 1.9% in Darwin and Canberra; 1.3% in Adelaide; 1.1% in Perth and 1.4% in Hobart. Prices also hit record highs in Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra.

The gains were concentrated in houses where prices rose 1.1% in the three months to November, while apartments fell by 0.6% amid restrictions on international tourism and migration.

The rebound in values is a boon to consumer spending power given Australia’s housing stock was already valued at a heady A$7.2 trillion ($5.29 trillion) in September.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has indirectly supported residential demand by cutting rates to just 0.1% and driving mortgage rates to all-time lows. ($1 = 1.3615 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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