House prices are up marginally in March but early signs of a downturn in the market are appearing.
Australia's property prices have edged higher in March despite the number of homes being listed for sale plummeting as vendors look to wait out the coronavirus crisis.
New data from property research firm CoreLogic revealed Australian properties rose by 0.7 per cent in March, the lowest monthly gain since the market lifted in July last year.
The greatest gains to be had over the past quarter were in Sydney (up 3.9 per cent), followed by Melbourne (up 2.9 per cent) and Canberra (up 1.7 per cent).
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Over the month of March, the only capital city to register a decline in property prices was Hobart, which dropped 0.2 per cent.
Despite the slight uptick in value across most of the country, CoreLogic's Head of Research Tim Lawless said property was not immune to the damaging effects of COVID-19.
"The housing market won't be immune to a drop-in sentiment and weaker economy, however the extent of the impact on dwelling values remains highly uncertain," Mr Lawless said.
"Capital growth trends will be contingent on how long it takes to contain the virus, and whether additional constraints on business or personal activity are introduced."
The most worrying figures, particularly for the real estate industry, were early signs that vendors ready to sell were holding on to their properties and waiting for a more optimistic time.
"Real estate agent reports generated across CoreLogic platforms, utilised by around 70 per cent of real estate agents for their research and pre-listing reports, have more than halved over recent weeks, implying a substantial drop in listings activity over coming weeks," CoreLogic reported.
"Similarly, recent polling of real estate agency enquiry levels indicated that more than 60 per cent of Australian real estate agents have seen buyer and seller enquiries fall by more than 50 per cent over recent weeks, with the larger majority expecting a further drop in enquiry over coming weeks."
Lower listings means the data for Australia's property prices becomes less stable, and Mr Lawless said this could result in lower prices.
"No doubt there is a rising level of downside risk to housing values which is compounded by the fragile state of household balance sheets, which on average, are heavily leveraged," he said.
"The wildcard remains the sheer uncertainty of how long this health crisis and associated economic disruption will persist."
When factoring in both free-standing homes and apartments, Sydney remains the most expensive capital city to buy property in with a median dwelling value of $882,849.
Melbourne is a close runner-up with a median value of $695,299 while Darwin remains the cheapest with a median value of $392,348.
Australia's Property Prices March 2020*
+ 1.1 %
+ 0.4 %
+ 0.6 %
+ 0.3 %
+ 0.5 %
- 0.2 %
+ 2.0 %
+ 0.6 %
+ 0.7 %
*CoreLogic Hedonic Home Value Index
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Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-australias-housing-market-grows-as-listings-plummet/295d3209-a350-4653-9816-7540adf67ffa