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Got an eagle eye on house prices? Rate rises are only part of the story

Rate rises can affect the property market, as we’ve all seen of late. But there are other factors that appear to hold longer-term sway over national house prices.

In a bid to bust inflation, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has been on a rate rise run that’s seen the official cash rate go from a record-low of 0.10% to 3.60% in just 10 short months.

Along the way, we’ve seen property prices across Australia decline.

As rates rose, Australia saw the largest and swiftest property price drop on record, with a 9.1% fall from April 2022 through to February 2023.

But a recent study by Domain, which examined 30 years of data, suggests that population and migration growth have greater and more long-lasting effects on property prices.

The study shows that a 1% mortgage rate increase may result in Australian house prices falling by 1.34%, on average.

But in comparison, national house prices could jump by 8.18% with a population increase of only 1%.

So let’s examine the effects of mortgage rate rises and population growth so you can navigate the market.

Mortgage rate rise effects

When interest rates rise, your borrowing power can dip. And the rise in the cost of living can hit the hip pocket.

So, under these conditions, fewer people may be willing to buy property.

With less demand, vendors may need to lower prices in order to sell homes. And if you’re ready to buy you may be able to negotiate a great price.

But the RBA can’t keep raising the cash rate forever (surely!).

In fact, economists at each of the big 4 banks have forecast that the RBA will announce just one or two more rate rises by 2 May 2023, with a peak cash rate of 4.10% predicted.

Corelogic stated in their recent three-year post-pandemic market report that once we get a rate hike reprieve, property sale and price volatility may lessen.

Population and migration effects

While mortgage rate rises do affect property prices, other factors appear to have more long-term effects.

Doman’s findings outlined that property prices are reactive to rate rises within the same quarter, whereas movement in population and migration numbers is cumulative and the effects are longer lasting.

So as migration numbers continue to rebound following COVID-19 lockdowns (and lockouts), it’s likely we’ll see an increase in property demand, which could cause prices to rise.

For example, Domain says Melbourne has “made a quick population recovery” since the COVID-19 lockdowns and is slated to nab the title of Australia’s most populated city by 2031-2032.

Melbourne had an 8.1% property price drop in 2022, while Sydney experienced a heftier reduction of 12.1%.

Domain’s study suggests that Melbourne’s population boom, and the resulting increase in housing demand, are behind the more moderate price drop.

And so, while it’s worth considering mortgage rates when surveying the property market, other factors like population and migration – which feed directly into supply and demand – are certainly worth considering too.

If you’d like to dig into the modelling further, the Australian government’s Centre for Population website has a great interactive tool that you can use to check out migration forecasts for each state and territory.

Get in touch with us today

Keeping an eagle eye on property prices is a great idea if you’ve got home ownership in your sights.

And while you’re busy researching the market, we can get cracking on helping to find the right loan for you.

We can also help you get financially savvy with tips to boost your borrowing power. That way you’ll be ready to pounce when the time is right.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.


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