Soaring home prices and the perceived lack of available stock have dulled the mood among many buyers in the past three months, although sentiment has lifted to a record high for existing homeowners who are now feeling wealthier and more confident about their finances, an industry survey shows.
The ME Quarterly Property Sentiment report found the overall sentiment has dropped by seven percentage points to 42 per cent in the three months to April, after hitting a record high in the previous quarter.
First-home buyers were the most despondent, with only 24 per cent feeling upbeat about the property market – a 3 percentage point drop from the previous three months.
By contrast, sentiment among property investors surged to 52 per cent, the most positive cohort among those surveyed.
Sydney-based investor Katherine Stainsby is among those who are feeling bullish about the prospect of the property market.
Having already invested in four properties across Adelaide and Brisbane through the buyer’s agency Buyer’s Club, she plans to buy another rental this year, buoyed by the improving economy and rising house prices.
“I think it’s a good time to expand my property portfolio because interest rates are so low, and I can use the equity in my house, which has grown quite a lot in the past year,” she said.
“The economy and the property market have recovered from COVID so there is less downside to investing.”
Worsening affordability a growing worry
The poll of 1000 first-home buyers, investors and existing homeowners found that affordability was a big issue for more than nine in ten (93 per cent) of aspiring homeowners.
This was further compounded by expectations for further house price growth in the next 12 months.
Some 67 per cent of respondents said they were expecting prices to rise in their area – a 13 percentage point rise since January, triggering worries about overpaying in 82 per cent of buyers.
Aspiring investor Tim Karet said the runaway prices have made it difficult for him to break into the property market.
“It’s very hard to get your foot in the door because you need a large amount of deposit, which could take years to accumulate,” he said. “Even if I want to invest and take advantage of low interest rates, I can’t, because I don’t have the deposit.”
Also weighing heavily on sentiment is the perceived availability of housing, with six in ten believing there is not enough choice in the current market – a 17 percentage point rise since January.
While rising prices are dampening the mood of first home buyers, it has boosted sentiment among existing owners who now feel wealthier.
Property owners’ “sense of wealth” and “general financial confidence” rose to their highest levels since ME’s survey began in April 2019 – at 41 per cent and 42 per cent respectively.
Despite worries about worsening affordability and lack of suitable homes to choose from, more than half (52 per cent) of first home buyers this quarter said they are looking to purchase property in the next 12 months with investors close behind at 40 per cent.
“Although overall sentiment is lower among first home buyers, our findings show they are still eager to buy property over the next year,” said Claudio Mazzarella, ME’s head of home loans and personal banking.
“There’s also a sense of ‘fear of missing out’ in the current market, which can be a key driver for this behaviour.”
Read the full article at https://www.afr.com/property/residential/first-home-buyers-now-less-optimistic-20210511-p57qy8
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