The outcome of the federal election could be a wildcard for the housing market amid signs the worst of the downturn in prices may be over, an analyst says.
CoreLogic head of research Tim Lawless says there is uncertainty about the impact of Labor’s planned changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax concession on the housing market, should it win the election.
“This really is a wildcard because nobody really knows what the outcome of changing these policies is going to be,” he told AAP, noting the stage of the housing market cycle usually had a bigger impact than a federal election.
“If we do see these policies being passed through the Senate, arguably we will see a bit of a dampening effect on investment in the housing market.”
Mr Lawless said a key issue would be whether there was a commensurate lift in owner occupier activity, which was probably a greater unknown given the tighter credit conditions.
AMP Capital senior economist Diana Mousina said a Labor victory could lead to a short-term bounce in housing demand and boost to prices as investors take advantage of current concessions before the changes in 2020.
“However, in the long run, abolishing negative gearing could hit home prices by another 5-12 per cent which is risky as the property market is already weak,” she said in a report this week.
“The Labor Party could announce a first home buyers grant to offset these negatives on home prices.”
Mr Lawless said housing market conditions may have moved through the worst of the downturn, with the latest CoreLogic report showing the rate of decline in house prices has moderated.
Data from the property analytics firm shows dwelling values across Australia have fallen 7.9 per cent since peaking in September 2017.
HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham said there are tentative signs housing prices are stabilising after a fall of about 10 per cent nationally since the peak.
“Our forecasts are that national housing prices will have a peak to trough decline of around 10 to 15 per cent, so our central case is that the correction is nearing its end,” he said this week.
In another report this week, ANZ economists said the moderation in monthly price declines suggested the housing market was probably past the worst.
They expect prices will fall nationally by a further five per cent in 2019, noting a tightening in credit continued to be the major driver of the weakness.
Mr Lawless said CoreLogic expected dwelling values to continue to drift lower during 2019 before finding a floor in early 2020, forecasting a 12.1 per cent fall from the market peak nationally.
The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to cut the official interest rate twice this year, but Mr Lawless said that may not provide as much stimulus for the housing market as in the past because lenders have imposed more stringent serviceability requirements on borrowers.