The tough road ahead for real estate agents

30 JULY 2022

It's been a tough couple of weeks for real estate agents around the country. Here in Newcastle, enquiry numbers are down, inspection numbers are down, offers are down. Sound like a Coles Jingle?

Earlier this week, ANZ predicted that the RBA cash rate would increase to 3.35% by Christmas. This is before the margin the banks put on. This is a 3.25% increase in interest rates since the first movement in May.

They predict further rate rises in August, September, October and November. Ouch!

If that proves correct, buyers with a $750,000 mortgage will face an increase in repayments of $754 a week since the first rate rise (on a 30-year P&I loan). That is pretty substantial, albeit compared to a record low base.

The Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB have all predicted a 2.60% cash rate by November. While this is lower, forecasts are generally going up each month.

Consumer sentiment is often what drives people to make real estate decisions. A combination of fear and greed can make people provide confidence for big decisions in life.

For us right now, it feels like confidence is not great (despite an economy that is actually performing very strongly).

Who's going to buy a house when a barrage of media tells us that prices are falling and the repayments costs are going up? Well, a few people, but a truckload less than a few months ago. Those who don't follow the herd could do surprisingly well.

The impact so far has been pretty swift. We always like to keep a close eye on Sydney prices as they are often closely correlated with ours here in Newcastle. We all have friends and family in the big smoke, and many people are moving between the two. Plus, the numbers are rarely reported in Newcastle (frustratingly!).

Anyway, Sydney prices dropped -0.6% last week, -1.9% over the past 28 days and 4.1% since the first rate rise in early May. This is a pretty significant number. Some markets are performing better (Brisbane and Adelaide). However, when looking at the combined capital city dwelling prices, they are down -1.2% over the last 28 days (source: Core Logic).

This might seem pretty small, but if they continue tracking at this pace for longer than a few months, this will likely be the sharpest contraction in prices ever.

I always think there is at least a months lag in seeing the real numbers, and I believe this trajectory would be pretty similar to what we are seeing in Newcastle.

At our open homes, we are seeing around 5-10 groups for the first Saturday of any new listing. Right now, it is rare to get more than 15. We have had some recently with just 2 or 3. Inspection numbers often decline fairly quickly after that.

Owners that understand where the market is at are more likely to move quickly and grab a buyer before they change their minds (or move onto another property), even if the price isn't perfect.

No seller is doing cartwheels at the moment. At best, they may accept a fair offer and feel relieved that they've managed to sell in really tough conditions. And with the understanding, the prices could get worse.

Whilst stock of listings is still relatively sparse, we are seeing a larger than normal number of properties being removed from the market, unsold. Vendors testing the waters with the idea of moving if they get their dream prices are sitting on the sidelines.

At some point, new buyers will see value in current prices and jump into the market. As a result, first-home buyers and investors will become more active. But we aren't there just yet.


By Dave Lane

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