House prices in many Australian capital cities and regional centres went up over 2019 as Sydney and Melbourne drove a broad value recovery across the country, the latest analysis from CoreLogic has confirmed.
The combined capitals were up 3% over the year, fuelled by annual price growth of 5.3% in both the largest capitals.
Despite a relatively slow start to 2019, growth of 4% over the three months to 31 December represented the fastest rate of quarterly national dwelling price growth in more than a decade.
While Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart and Canberra all posted annual growth above the 3% average, house prices increased only slightly in Brisbane over the year and fell marginally in Adelaide.
Perth and especially Darwin both had poor showings in 2019, where dwelling values went backwards by 6.8% and 9.7% respectively.
“The positive year-end results mask what has been a year of two distinct halves – we saw capital city dwelling values fall by 3.8% over the first six months of 2019 and then rebound by 7.0% over the second half of the year," said CoreLogic head of research, Tim Lawless.
“The housing value rebound was spurred on by lower mortgage rates, a relaxation in borrower serviceability assessments, improved housing affordability and renewed certainty around property taxation policies post the federal election. Lower advertised stock levels persisted, providing additional upwards pressure on prices amidst rising buyer activity.”
Although value growth was more subdued outside the capitals, CoreLogic saw improvements in more than half of the 42 regional areas it monitors. The best performers were in Tasmania, which remains an affordable option for interstate buyers.
By contrast, the weakest regional areas were 'outback' Queensland and WA, where weak economic conditions and the ongoing drought continue to soften demand.
Looking ahead, Lawless predicted that while "housing values are expected to rise through 2020 across most regions... the year may bring about a change in the growth dynamic with the larger cities seeing a slowdown in the rapid rate of growth recorded through the second half of 2019.
"In contrast, smaller capitals such as Brisbane and Perth, as well as key regional centres and lifestyle markets, could see an improvement in conditions as buyers are attracted to affordable prices coupled with job opportunities and lifestyle factors," he said.