Record low interest rates have driven Australian housing prices up 22 per cent last year — its sharpest rise in three decades.
The nation’s median property price has risen for a 15th straight month. It comes after another 1 per cent gain in December, according to the latest figures from CoreLogic.
But prices have been rising at a slower pace each month, as property became increasingly unaffordable for first-home buyers.
Last month, Australia’s median price rose by 1 per cent to $709,803.
Sydney had a small increase, by 0.3 per cent, while prices in Melbourne fell by 0.1 per cent in December.
“A surge in freshly advertised listings through December has been a key factor in taking some heat out of the Melbourne and Sydney housing markets,” CoreLogic’s research director Tim Lawless said.
Prices in Australia’s two most expensive capitals were also affected by “demand headwinds caused by significant affordability constraints and negative interstate migration,” he added.
While the pace of capital gains has been easing in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, prices in other capital cities have lifted sharply.
Prices in Brisbane and Adelaide went up by 2.9 per and 2.6 per cent in December, showing a two-speed market emerging across capital cities.
For the second year in a row, prices in regional areas went up at a much faster rate, compared to the capital cities.
Since March 2020, housing values across regional Australia were up 32 per cent, compared to a 20 per cent lift in values seen across the combined capitals.
However, AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said “storm clouds are gathering for the property boom”.
“We expect a further slowing in national home price gains ahead of a peak and then price falls from later this year and in 2023,” he said in a note.
Mr Oliver added that reflected poor affordability, rising mortgage rates and higher interest rate buffers in Australia.
“It’s unclear what impact the latest COVID wave, driven by the Omicron variant, will have on the property market. It will likely reduce buyer confidence, but it could also dampen listings,” he said.
“The 25-year bull market in capital city property prices is likely to come under pressure in the years ahead, as the 30-year decline in mortgage rates is now likely over.
“The collapse in immigration over the last two years may help remove the chronic undersupply of Australian housing, and the work-from-home phenomenon may take pressure off capital city prices.”