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City property price index reaches record high in Australia

Property prices in Australian capital cities increased by 0.8% in July, a new record high, with values now 6.3% higher than the first seven months of the year, the latest published data shows. However, while overall values are still rising, four of Australia’s eight capital cities recorded a fall in dwelling values over the month, the CoreLogic July home value index also shows. Simultaneously, the rate of growth across the combined capitals aggregate index slipped back a notch after bouncing higher in April and May. The annual rate of growth, which hit a recent peak at 11.1% across the combined capitals index in October last year, is now tracking at 6.1%, the slowest annual rate of appreciation since September 2013. Sydney and Melbourne have also seen the annual rate of growth slip back to below 10% with the July indices showing a respective 9.1% and 7.5% capital gain over the past 12 months. Previously both Sydney and Melbourne’s capital gains peaked higher with Sydney reaching a peak rate of annual growth in July last year when dwelling values were rising by 18.4% annum and when Melbourne values were increasing by 14.2% per annum over the 12 months ending September last year. Darwin and Perth remain as the only two capital cities to record a negative movement in dwelling values over the past year with prices in Darwin down 7.6% and Perth values falling by 5.6%. July marks the 50th month of the combined capitals growth cycle, which commenced in June 2012. Over the cycle to date, capital city dwelling values have risen by 38.3% and according to CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless this demonstrates the strength in the Sydney and Melbourne growth trend with dwelling values across the two largest capitals recording a cumulative 61.3% and 42% over the cycle to date. Hobart, where the growth trend has recently accelerated, has been the next best performer with values rising 17.6% over the growth cycle followed by Brisbane at 17.4%, Adelaide at 14.3% and Canberra at 12.4%. ‘The recent moderation in the rate of capital gains should be viewed as a positive sign that growth in dwelling values may be returning to more sustainable levels. However, the growth trend rate is still tracking considerably faster than income growth resulting in a deterioration of housing affordability,’ said Lawless. ‘Using Sydney as a case in point, the Australian National University estimates that Sydney household incomes have grown by approximately 4.5% per annum since June 2012 while dwelling values are up 12.1% per annum,’ he added. Continue reading

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Maligned banking practice could help rebalance UK mortgage market, study suggests

Securitisation, where investors buy pools of debt from banks as secured assets, has enabled mortgage lenders in the UK to offer an increased number of lower risk, long term fixed rate mortgages, it is claimed. Securitisation was originally intended to free up funding for banks, allowing them to sell packages of mortgage loans and lend out the proceeds to more customers. Those loans could then be sold on, and the cycle could start again. The process was also intended to reduce risks for banks by spreading the ownership of mortgages and other loans among other investors but it came under scrutiny during the global economic downturn and used less frequently as a result. However, a new study of long term market trends by Dr Alla Koblyakova and Professor Michael White, of Nottingham Trent University’s Real Estate Economics and Investment Research Group, has found that 78% of mortgages sold as securities over a nine year period were held in longer term fixed rate contracts. ‘This is an important finding as it shows that securitisation not only increases liquidity in the market but has the potential to shift consumer mortgage choices toward long-term fixed rate mortgage debt,’ said Koblyakova. ‘In a market like the United Kingdom’s, where around 80% of residential mortgage debt is held in higher risk variable rate or short term fixed rate contracts, this is a very welcome finding,’ he claimed. ‘A high level of variable debt is seen as a source of economic instability. Policymakers may wish, therefore, to consider the potentially beneficial role that securitisation can play in helping balance the UK mortgage market,’ he added. According to the study variable rate and short term fixed rate mortgages are more risky for borrowers as they leave them more vulnerable to financial shocks, such as interest rate increases. By contrast, longer term fixed rate deals protect borrowers from such increases, but leave lenders more exposed to these risks. Koblyakova believes lenders may be more inclined to offer longer term fixed rate mortgages to borrowers when these mortgages are sold on as securities because this reduces the lenders’ exposure to risk. The study also found that variable rate mortgages were more profitable for lenders than long term fixed rate mortgages by as much as 1.6%. For every 1% of profit a mortgage lender makes from a variable rate mortgage, the market share of variable rate mortgages increases by 18%. This is despite the data also suggesting that consumers prefer to take out longer term fixed rate products. ‘According to this data, larger profit margins for variable rate mortgage products positively influences demand. These findings are very important, and should stand as a call for action for policymakers, as they show that UK households may be faced with greater payment shocks because of the strategies of lenders,’ Koblyakova concluded. White pointed out that the regulation… Continue reading

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UK asking prices down 1.1% in December, lowest seasonal dip since 2006

The UK residential property market has experienced its lowest property price dip for the end of the year since 2006, according to the latest index figures. Traditionally prices fall off in the run up to the festive season but the data from Rightmove shows that asking prices fell 1.1% in December and it is forecasting price growth of 6% for 2016. It says that increasingly stretched affordability and extra stamp duty on the buy to let sector will be outweighed by stark imbalance between supply and demand. Indeed, buyer enquiries to agents since the beginning of October this year are up 37% but the number of properties coming to market was down 5% compared to the same period in 2014. Looking ahead demand is expected to increase further in more affordable cities such as Leeds, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Manchester as highly skilled workers may choose to leave London for buoyant city regions. The lower than expected fall in prices mean that the annual increase is almost £20,000 or 7.4%, taking the average asking price to £289,452. ‘Whilst a fall is the norm at this time of year, this is December’s best post financial crash performance, signalling another round of price rises in 2016. Despite the shortage of suitable stock in many parts of the market, demand for housing is on the up,’ said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst. ‘Although the average price of property coming to market is already up by a hefty 7.4% compared to a year ago, Rightmove forecasts that prices will reach and breach new records next year,’ he added. He explained that whilst initiatives are in place to encourage developers to build more new homes to supplement the supply of existing ones coming to market, the lead times are long and developers face capacity constraints. ‘In the meantime strong demand is being further fuelled by the additional momentum and aspiration for home-ownership that schemes such as Help to Buy create. We therefore predict that the average asking price will be another £17,000 higher by the end of 2016,’ said shipside. An analysis of Rightmove data by Dr Alasdair Rae, of the University of Sheffield, suggests that there could be an exodus of highly skilled workers leaving London for more affordable yet vibrant cities such as Leeds, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Manchester. But this ripple effect won't reach all towns and cities and continued stagnation or price falls are likely in less sought after areas in the north and west of the country, especially if buy to let investor activity tails off. Rae suggests that as choosier buyers demand easier access to amenities to satisfy convenience and lifestyle demands, expect to see increased price divergence between the more buoyant large urban markets and smaller urban areas that can’t offer the same range of facilities. ‘2016 may be the year when many young urban professionals finally give up on the London market and consider long term career moves… Continue reading

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