John McGrath | 16 December 2012

The end of the buyers' market drawing near, with Australian property prices set to rise in 2013

The end of the buyers' market drawing near, with Australian property prices set to rise in 2013

I’m expecting a more buoyant market in both Sydney and Brisbane in 2013, especially with the latest official interest rate cut taking rates to the historical low benchmark of 3%. This is the same interest rate as during the GFC, and many in the financial markets predict more to come next year.

Interest rates have a profound effect on property markets, although the impact of a collective 1.25-percentage-point cut in official rates this year has been tempered by the banks not passing them on in full.

As the holidays draw near, I suggest spending some of your spare time considering how you can leverage current market conditions to build wealth for the future. I feel we’re in the final stages of a buyers’ market and prices are only going to rise (not dramatically, but in a reasonable fashion) from here.

With home loan rates, especially fixed rates, in the low 5% bracket, you don’t need a sky-high yield to make your next investment property pretty much pay for itself. There’s also the opportunity to upgrade your home at a time when the higher up you go on the price scale, the better the savings.

It’s worth noting, however, that falling interest rates indicate a flat economy. Generally speaking, retail spending is down as more people focus on saving and reducing debt. Plus, we have a very high dollar and the global economic outlook is still of concern. Overall though, Australia is still strong.

If you’re worried about the economy, have a read of the latest monetary policy decision on the Reserve Bank’s website at It should put your mind at ease as it clearly explains why the RBA is cutting rates – and it’s certainly not because the economy is falling into a hole!

If you’re personally in a good financial position with a secure job, then don’t let the economy hold you back from buying property. 

The latest RP Data-Rismark survey shows property values in Sydney and Brisbane are up 0.6% and 0.8% for September-November. Year-on-year, they’re up 1.3% and 0.3% respectively.

These are small gains, but they represent a change in the market. On a national level, capital city prices are still -5.6% off their historical peak in November 2010 but they’re up 2% from their historical low in May this year – indicating we’ve left the bottom of this particular property cycle.

During September-November, weekend clearance rates in Sydney remained above 60% for nine consecutive weeks. This is a significant development. After breaking down McGrath’s clearance rates for the last four Saturdays in Sydney, it becomes clear that the under-$750,000 market is still strongest, with our company averaging a 69% clearance rate in this bracket, followed by 65% for the $750,000 to $1.5 million sector.


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