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  1. The Pom Queen

    Property Market in Australia

    What a difference a year makes. At least if you've ignored all the hype. It was about this time in 2011 when the word went out we were in the midst of a rare phenomenon — a buyer's market. Clearance rates were on the slide. Supply was way up. Most importantly, prices were down in many parts of the country. This was the time to buy, it was said. Don't wait — these favourable conditions wouldn't last long — because the market had hit bottom. There was plenty of scepticism, to say the least. The claims smacked of self-interested optimism at best; an increasingly desperate spruiking at worst. This is where the market stood in April 2011, according to RP Data-Rismark's index of dwelling values (houses & units): Year to April 2011 Sydney 1.2% Melbourne -0.4% Brisbane -6.8% Adelaide -2.1% Perth -7.1% Darwin -7.0% Canberra 0.7% Hobart NA National -1.5% These falls had barely begun to take the edge off the massive price growth experienced in the previous two years. While there were undoubtedly some good individual buys to be had, a buyer's market it was clearly not ... yet. Fast-forward 12 months and the picture is a hell of a lot different. Rather than bottoming out in mid-2011, across-the-board declines followed throughout the capital cities. The slide proved to be pretty steep in Hobart, Melbourne and Brisbane. Year to April 2012 Sydney -2.6% Melbourne -7.0% Brisbane -6.4% Adelaide -4.2% Perth -2.8% Darwin -1.1% Canberra -0.7% Hobart -8.5% National -4.5% Plenty of pundits and industry people will disregard or dismiss this whole exercise by attacking the use of metropolitan median figures. They are too imprecise; they don't tell the story about what's happening in pockets of the market or particular price bands. Fair enough, up to a point. Nobody buys a house based on the Melbourne metro median, but nor do they base a purchase decision on the suburb or council median either. Individual purchases are exactly that. Nevertheless, these figures do point to a trend that certainly runs counter to the buyer's market mantra we heard last year. And for the average punter, someone who doesn't need to buy a home but can move into the market at a time and place of their own choosing, the figures are quite stark. In many parts of the country, the decision to wait just one year could have theoretically saved them a bundle: Change in $ for a $500,000 home over year to April 2012 Sydney -$13,000 Melbourne -$35,000 Brisbane -$32,000 Adelaide -$21,000 Perth -$14,000 Darwin -$5,500 Canberra -$3,500 Hobart -$42,500 National -$22,500 And this only accounts for price movements in the last year, not from the market's peak.