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Report warns property market may be in 'eye of storm'



A new report has cautioned that a small rise in property values is likely just a blip and that the market is yet to bottom out.

On a rolling four-week basis, latest data from property CoreLogic showed there were marginal lifts in Sydney (0.8 per cent), Melbourne (0.2) and Perth (0.1).

Brisbane was unchanged, while Adelaide is now the weakest of the five largest capitals with values down 0.4 per cent.

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The momentum in Australia's housing downturn has been easing since September, with value falls virtually flat lining in February.

But the report warned various factors had likely propped up prices and that deeper falls were on the way, with predicted interest rate rises set to coincide with other challenging market conditions.

A lower than normal flow of new properties for sale had cushioned the market, the report said, with capital city listings over the past four weeks almost 20 per cent below the previous five-year average for this time of the year.

"Such low advertised supply is likely to be a central factor keeping a floor under housing prices despite a clear drop in demand," the report said.

The surge in permanent and long-term migrants back to Australia could be another factor supporting the stronger market conditions, analysts suggested.

While most new migrants traditionally look to rent, the report said the super-tight rental market could be pushing new arrivals into buying.

But the report warned of tough times ahead.

"The housing market is still facing some considerable downside risk," analysts said, adding that "with this in mind, it's still too early to call a bottom of the cycle."

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Interest rates may rise again, following this month's 10th consecutive hike since May last year.

The mortgage cliff, which will affect close to one million homeowners, is also yet to hit.

"We are yet to see the full impact on households from the aggressive rate hiking cycle to date," the report said.

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Household budgets will come under more strain around the middle of the year if, as some experts predict, economic conditions weaken, savings built up over the pandemic are further depleted and unemployment begins to rise.

The report said the next few months "will be critical" to understand whether the housing market is moving through an inflection point or "if it is simply the eye of the storm".

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