Capital city house prices fell 1.
6 per cent in January, further dampening growth as natural disasters swept across the nation, a survey shows.
The RP Data Rismark survey, released on Monday, shows capital city dwelling prices for the January quarter fell 1.8 per cent, but were still up 1.2 per cent over the year.
Housing activity in January was weaker than usual due to flooding in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, and Cyclone Yasi in northern Queensland.
January is typically the quietest month of the year for sales due to the summer break. CommSec economist Craig James said Australian dwelling prices had now completed a “soft landing”.
“Home prices are now tracking at just a 1.2 per cent annual rate, the slowest growth rate in 23 months and well below the long-term average pace of eight per cent,” he said.
“The rate hikes delivered over 2010 have taken the heat out of the housing market, while the wet weather has also added another degree of weakness to the result.”
However, he said it was important to acknowledge that sales volumes in January were less than 50 per cent of a typical month’s flows.
The RP Data survey, which is complied monthly, showed prices rose in just one of the seven capital cities in January, with Darwin prices up 3.3 per cent. Melbourne prices fell 2.3 per cent, followed by Sydney and Brisbane – both down 1.8 per cent in the month.
Canberra prices declined 1.6 per cent, Perth fell 1.5 per cent and Adelaide dropped 0.7 per cent.
RP Data research director Tim Lawless warned the low number of sales in January could lead to volatile outcomes, which could in turn lead to revisions.
“This year the downturn in activity has been compounded by the spate of natural disasters experienced around the country,” he said. Prices outside capital cities fell 1.2 per cent in the month, the survey showed.
The figures also revealed the median dwelling price in the capital cities was down to $465,000 over the three months to the end of January.
The best performing capital city over the quarter was Adelaide, which posted 1.3 per cent growth, while the weakest performing capital city was Canberra, where values fell 3.8 per cent.
Rismark’s Ben Skilbeck said the results indicated the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) was “deliberately seeking to temper activity” in the household sector to make room for Australia’s resources boom.