A storm of triumphant prose rolled out to greet yesterday’s release of the authoritative ABS Eight Capital Cities House Price Indexes.
Normally-sober Bloomberg told its global audience: “Prices climbed 0.3 per cent in the September quarter from a year ago.”
They did – in nominal terms.
Sadly this was a fraction of Australia’s inflation experience and only Darwin (+8.2%) and Perth (+4.4%) house prices beat the ‘All groups CPI, seasonally adjusted’ of 2.0 per cent year-on-year.
RP Data says median house prices are $563,000, on which that 0.3 per cent annual gain is a mouth-watering $1,689. Meanwhile, the purchasing power of that $563,000 went backwards by $11,260. The RBA prefers the ‘CPI weighted mean’ which sits much higher at 2.6 per cent, in which case one can subtract $14,638 plus holding charges before celebrations commence.
For 1.2 million Negative Gearers, this is the ninth quarter where their tragic strategy – ‘Stragedy’ – of converting current taxable income into concessionally taxed capital gains has lost them money. Their rental returns, gross or net, are pitiful as well.
The RBA has kept house prices stable in nominal dollar terms with its persistent interest rate cuts. The smart money has exited low returns, risk and debt by selling down, while the majority of vendors, in a magnificent display of unity like The Charge of the Light Brigade, persist with the fantasy that prices can only rise. The last nine quarters are an aberration, of course.
Government’s persistent interventions to protect citizens from the consequences of their actions by propping up land prices can only end with zero interest rates and an exhausted Treasury. The folly of this becomes apparent when one looks at the matter clearly: Australian land – space, dirt, territory – is so abundant it ought be nearly free.