Will coronavirus impact property prices?

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Major housing markets in Australia are expected to realise solid gains in prices over the next two years, but two things could potentially slow down the price forecasts: the coronavirus outbreak and a potential macroprudential measure, said an economist.

Trent Wiltshire, an economist at Domain, said the coronavirus outbreak in China might have an impact on Australia's economy, albeit only in the short-term.

"It will hit the tourism and education sectors particularly hard. But it's possible the outbreak will be much more severe and cause a significant economic slowdown in China, which would have a big impact on Australia's economy," he said.

In a recent statement to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said the outbreak of the coronavirus represents a new source of uncertainty.

"It is too early to tell what the impact will be, but the SARS outbreak in 2003 may provide a guide. On that occasion, there was a sharp slowing in output growth in China for a few months, before a sharp bounce back as the outbreak was controlled and economic stimulus measures were introduced," he said.

Also read: Price Growth ''Likely To Slow''

Wiltshire said one of the potential impacts of the coronavirus is an uptick in the unemployment rate.

"A significantly higher unemployment rate would hit the property market hard. It would have the biggest impact on the Brisbane and Perth markets, as these markets are most exposed to the Chinese economy," Wiltshire said.

The other downside risk to the house-price forecast is a potential measure by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to moderate the risk of a rapid increase in dwelling values.

In 2014 and 2017, APRA introduced a host of measures to slow speculative lending, which led to a decline in property prices in many cities. However, Wiltshire said the chances of APRA doing the same in the next two years depended on whether lending practices become speculative and risky.

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that owner occupiers are leading the market recovery as investors take the back seat.

"There is a chance that APRA will intervene to directly target property prices, even if lending activity doesn't become speculative. But APRA would only consider intervening if price growth accelerated well above 10% or 20% annual growth in a number of cities," Wiltshire said.

The latest price forecast by Domain points to gains across all capital cities over the next two years. The combined median house price across all capital cities is slated to grow by 8% this year and by up to 7% in 2021.

Sydney and Brisbane are poised to report the most robust growth. Melbourne is also projected to do well and is expected to hit the million-dollar median house price by 2021.

Top Suburbs : torrensville , westmead , thebarton , redcliffe , coburg north

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