Two major research sources agreeing on price movements is surprisingly rare in Australian real estate. But it happened this week, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Property Monitors saying similar things about capital city property prices.
It's noteworthy because this kind of alignment in the figures from different sources is rare. Each quarter I compare figures from four regular sources of national price data, and usually the points of difference are more numerous than the areas of agreement.
Often figures from one source totally contradict those from an alternative source. It makes it hard for investors to decide what markets are really doing -- and it illustrates how invalid it is for media to place such emphasis on figures from one source, particularly for short time periods.
But, this time, the ABS and APM agree that the average result for house prices across the eight state and territory capitals in 2012 was a rise of 2.1%. For the December quarter, the ABS records an average rise of 1.6%, while APM says 1.9%.
They agree Darwin is the market leader and have almost identical stats for the Northern Territory capital: the ABS says it rose 2.6% in the December quarter and 10.1% for the year, while APM records a 2.7% rise for the quarter and 10.2% for the year. They also agree that Perth is the second-ranked city on capital growth, up solidly in the quarter and about 6% in the positive for 2012.
Both sources record a solid rise by Sydney, up 2%-ish in the December quarter and 3-4% for the year. They have similar figures for Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane also. The ABS has Melbourne still slightly down on the price levels of a year ago, and APM has Melbourne slightly up (both less than 1%).
The only major point of difference between the two sources is Hobart. The APM figures are a lot more bullish than those from the ABS. APM records a 4.7% rise in Hobart price levels in the December quarter, leaving them less than 1% below the levels of a year earlier. That's surprising: Tasmania is the recession state and Hobart lacks any discernible drivers of price growth that I can see.
The ABS figures for Hobart make more sense: down 1.4% in the December quarter, leaving Hobart price levels 6% lower than a year earlier.
Overall, the figures published by both sources confirm the recovery in capital city prices experienced in the latter part of 2012, pretty much as expected. They both have Darwin as the runaway leader among the capital cities on price growth, followed by the rapidly improving Perth, with Sydney also doing well.
It’s a pity neither publishes collated data for major regional cities, as it would show that only Darwin among the capital cities is in the same league for capital growth. And Darwin is essentially a regional centre masquerading as a capital city.
Numerous regional centres had double-digit growth in median house prices in 2012 and many of them have superior long-term growth rates to most capital cities, particularly when compared with Sydney and Melbourne.
*This article was originally published at Property Observer