Households owned $5.6 trillion worth of land and residential property at the end of 2015, but the real value of their holdings fell.
The total value of these assets at the end of December was $30 billion more than three months before, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
But allowing for transactions – purchases less sales – that added $13.3 billion to the total, and adjusting for a rise in the general price level for goods and services, it turns out at the value of homes and land already owned at the beginning of the quarter fell by $10.1 billion in real terms.
That’s not much – only 0.2 per cent.
And it’s not the first time households have suffered what’s called a real holding loss on their residential real estate assets.
Over the past decade, it’s happened more than one quarter in every three, most recently with a run of seven quarterly losses ending September 2012.
Despite that, real holding gains over the period added up to $1.1 trillion and the total value of these assets, including the effects of net purchases and price rises in excess of inflation, has risen by $2.6 trillion.
Even so, the latest fall ended the subsequent run of 12 consecutive gains as housing price rises stalled as 2015 drew to a close.
Figures from CoreLogic RP Data showed that average capital city housing prices in December were down by 1.4 per cent from September.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) governor Glenn Stephens has said falls in housing prices in recent months, while not the intent of regulatory changes designed to restrict excessive lending to housing investors, had been “helpful”.