After what was a promising cooling in house price growth late last year, there are signs that it is starting to lift.
The annual rise in house prices peaked at around 13 per cent and through the course of 2014, this growth dipped to a low of around 7.75 per cent. It looked like we were seeing an orderly and non-disruptive moderation in what had the potential to turn into a nasty asset price bubble.
But things are changing.
The most recent data from Corelogic shows that annual house price growth has picked up, hitting 8.9 per cent today.
This is not good news. The case for a long overdue regulatory changes to restrict lending is so overwhelming to most economists, yet the RBA and APRA fiddle and diddle afraid to interfere in the market.
While new supply and a moderation in population growth will, in time, help address the supply/ demand imbalances, the hugely favourable affordability dynamic at the moment are fueling upward price pressures. The interesting issue is that the house price numbers take no account of the interest rate cut earlier this month – it will take some time (a few months at least) for that to filter into the price data.
The dilemma is that more big picture policy stimulus is needed to recharge economic growth and employment, but the RBA is getting close to the point where further interest rate cuts to deal with these issues will risk more problems in housing.
It shouldn’t be all that hard. Implementing policies which restrict lending for people buying their second or more properties and ending the crazy notion of having superannuation funds borrowing for property are two easy, quick and no doubt effective changes that could and should be implemented forthwith.
It would be bad news if we get to the end of 2015 and find that house prices are 10 per cent higher and the RBA has done nothing to deal with the obvious problems driving this boom.