House prices rebound

Thu, 25 Jun 2015  |  

Information is valuable. The more the better. It is why there are market reports in the news morning, noon and night. It is why a sharp daily rise or fall in the stock market can lead headline news and it can be information useful in judging the economic and market risks as the information comes to hand.

The Corelogic daily house price series is like that. A really very interesting resource that tracks daily house prices from sales and settlements in the weeks and months gone by.

The problem with daily data – be it for the stock market, currencies and houses – is that a seasonal blip, an erroneous tick up or down can provide a false lead.

And so it was with the house price data up until a week or two ago.

The daily data showed that house prices, Australia wide, fell by close to 2 per cent in a few weeks. It opened the door for chatter about whether this was in fact the start of the much predicted and forever illusive correction in house prices.

Buzzzzzz!! Wrong.

Fast forward just a coupe of weeks and it is clear that house prices remain on fire. Prices in Sydney and nation wide are scooting at or near record highs. Perth is soft, but the other cities seem to have lifted from the mini-blip downward a few weeks ago.

It happens frequently with share prices too. A sharp 2, 3 or 4 per cent fall one week or other is swamped by a sharp recovery in prices over the following weeks.

This doesn’t mean the data are useless or to be ignored, but beware of inflection points that sometimes, or often, reversed. Indeed, is the recent uptick a false recovery?

For now, house prices remain on fire. Annual growth in Sydney is a mind numbing 15.5 per cent; Melbourne 9.7 per cent and nation wide 9.5 per cent.

There is a problem with house prices here that looked like being addressed when prices seemingly softened a few weeks ago. Alas, the RBA would be looking at this with huge discomfort even though it seems keen to do as little as possible to address it. It will continue to look at the daily house price data for hints of a turn but it really needs to see four or five of six months of softness before it can be confident that a genuine turning point has been reached.

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