Understanding the Property Cycle

In his 44 year real estate career, the Director of KR Peters Peter Nicolls has seen the property market surge and fall more times than he can recall. However, 2020 has been one of the most extraordinary he has witnessed in his long career.
18-11-2020

Buyers and sellers have diametrically opposing aims - buyers want to purchase at the bottom of the market and vendors want to sell at the top of the market.

This is all good and well in theory, but how do you know when the market has peaked or bottomed out?

In his 44 year real estate career, the Director of KR Peters Peter Nicolls has seen the property market surge and fall more times than he can recall.

However, 2020 has been one of the most extraordinary he has witnessed in his long career.

"This property cycle has been like no other as buyers and sellers have navigated their way through the most extraordinary and difficult times," said Mr Nicolls.

But despite the gloomy predictions at the start of the COVID crisis of a property crash, the market has shown incredible resilience and is now heating up across the country.

Mr Nicolls likens the market to a ticking clock.

He says with increased sales activity now that Melbourne's lockdown has ended, building permit applications up and property values rising the clock is presently at 10 o'clock and racing towards 12 o'clock.

Melbourne's property market last hit rock bottom in the middle of 2019. Then the clock had slumped to the "6am position".

"The banks had tightened their lending criteria and home buyers were experiencing difficulties in obtaining finance. The average days on market had ballooned to 90. House prices were down on average 12%," Mr Nicolls recalled.

In July 2019 the median price had dropped to $700,000 for houses and $548,000 for units meaning it was a great time for buyers.

"Astute home buyers who purchased at the bottom of the market have seen sharp price increases up to 15% in a relatively short period of time."

Mr Nicolls said a number of factors had contributed to the upswing.

First, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates to historic lows in 2020, and the Governor has predicted rates will stay that way for at least the next three years.

The commercial banks have also eased their tight lending policies, which means buyers can borrow $80,000-$100,000 more.

And in March in response to Covid-19, the banks offered mortgage holders a six month freeze on repayments if they were experiencing financial difficulty.

The Federal Government has also stepped in with stimulus incentives such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker to support workers and businesses hit hard by COVID restrictions.

Mr Nicolls said the $25,000 HomeBuilder Grant had also assisted first and second home buyers and home owners wanting to build or renovate.

In addition, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) has assisted more than 20,000 home buyers secure a property with only a 5% deposit. The scheme guarantees the remainder of the deposit avoiding the need for costly mortgage insurance.

"This has enabled buyers to save approx $14,000 and fast-track their purchase by 12 months," Mr Nicolls explained.

"The First Home Buyers grant of $10,000 and Stamp Duty savings on homes up to $750,000 has further assisted home buyers."

Mr Nicolls said positive news of an imminent COVID-19 vaccine and the easing of strict restrictions in Victoria has seen consumer confidence rebound.

"Buyers concerned with the volatile stock market and low interest rates have returned to the property market in force.”

"The clock has swung swiftly upwards to 10am and is heading towards the peak at 12 o'clock in record time."

However, he sounded a note of caution warning the heat will inevitably dissipate once JobKeeper ends in March 2021 and the HomeBuilder scheme winds up in December.

"Nevertheless, this will only be a correction and the pendulum will not fall," he said.

"The State Government's recent announcement of a $5.3 billion social housing package to build 12,000 houses over the next four years and the Land Tax relief extension until 31 March 2021 will add much needed confidence to the economy.

"Originally, I was of the view that the property market would nose dive at the end of March 2021. However, for the reasons mentioned I now believe that we will see a strong market in 2021 with the peak around June."

This is good news for sellers who can be confident they are listing near the peak of the market. For home buyers it's a guessing game, with most opting to buy now to avoid further rises.