This town is starting to lose focus on the job at hand. Melbournians are starting to take their eye off the ball. After a hard year without travel people are starting to dream of the coast, of Greece, of Bali, of Spain and Byron Bay. You can see them around town, baristas making coffee while lying on white sand beaches, restaurateurs serving Caesar salads with a smile that tells you they’re catching waves at Noosa. Even in real estate you’ll notice some agents ushering homebuyers through houses while skiing in Japan. Mentally they’re miles away, whooshing down the slopes through white powder, ‘Yes, it has a two-car garage. But who really cares?’

It happens every year, people take off on holiday weeks before they actually leave. But this year, given how tough it’s been, and how restrained our behaviour, people have begun the mental exodus early. Well, at Abercromby’s we are refusing to succumb to our dreams. Or we are refusing to admit we have succumbed to our dreams. (That is not sand between our toes!!) Either way, we’re still working hard at the coalface selling magnificent properties and we’ve just listed some beautiful real estate for the Summer/Autumn of 2022.

Lately APRA has been making noises about the declining affordability of houses and an increase in interest rates. The Reserve Bank has stated it doesn’t envisage a lift in interest rates before 2024, but financial markets seem to think that the RBA will have to move by the middle of next year. APRA now requires lenders to test the ability of borrowers to handle a 3% point increase in repayments. But any lift in interest rates will have to be slight, given the high level of debt carried by homeowners at present.

And it’s worth remembering that borrowing money, even at up to 5%, is still cheap when compared with the 15%-18% buyers were having to pay for money back in the 80’s and 90’s. Especially cheap too when you consider the annual price increase of property makes the 5% cost of money look paltry.

Since coming out of lockdown 6 (Yes. 6. Six.) the market has continued to grow, and at Abercromby’s we see no reason why that won’t endure in 2022, albeit with a slight kink in demand if the RBA tweaks the money rate.

So if you have a property to list trust it to the holistic and discreet methodology of Abercromby’s experienced sales team. We work together, everyone involved, to maximise your property’s sale price.

RENTAL MARKET UPDATE.

Houses and family homes are hard to get. Demand is high with people are returning from overseas. From sea and tree changes looking for places to live, they are demanding modern homes, which are few and far between at the moment. At Abercromby’s we expect that as the international borders open and people once again become confident enough to travel internationally for work that they will lease out their homes in Melbourne, supplying more stock.

It’s traditional for the rental market to enter a brief hibernation at this time of year, from mid-December to mid-January when people leave the town for the coast and country. A strong wave of demand will reawaken the market in the second half of January when people return for the new school year.

Whether demand will push up rent in 2022 will depend largely on the return of internationals to work and study in Melbourne. Will they come back in large numbers or not? It is hard to know in such unpredictable times. At the time of writing this the Omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to engender only mild symptoms in those infected, so hopefully it won’t be a market factor for too long. But it is a reminder that COVID-19 isn’t played out yet.

OVERVIEW.

The rate of house price growth is slowing, having peaked in March, but the capital cities have seen double-digit price growth this year. Melbourne’s has been measured at 15%. APRA’s decision to ensure new borrowers can service a mortgage if interest rates jump 3% will cause some deceleration in lending.

So, yes, housing price growth is likely to ease off, because the current levels of growth aren’t realistic for the long term. Countering that, our strengthening economy and the opening of our international borders next year should support demand for housing.

Property doomsayers are often just trying to get a headline, or their head on TV, and they’ve been talking down the market right the way through its historic rise. And they’re still at it. “The sky’s about to fall. It’s the end of the world as we know it...” Their record at predicting the future of the real estate market would make a clairvoyant blush and, generally speaking, clairvoyants are entirely shameless.

The market rise might shift down a gear in 2022, but at Abercromby’s we can’t see any evidence for any reset more serious than that.

All our talented and diverse staff at Abercromby’s would like to acknowledge our debt to you for your continued support of our discreet way with real estate. We are who we are because you want us to be this way. Thank you. And Merry Christmas to you all and have a happy and safe holiday season. It’s okay to dream a little now... surf, sun, a book and a bottle... we’ll keep an eye on things here.