Australian House Prices Are Falling At Their Fastest Rate Since The GFC So WTF Does That Mean?

Homer and Marge Simpson's house on The Simpsons with a 'For Sale' sign out the front

Congratulations, guys! Property analysts reckon house prices across Australia are falling at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis hit in 2008.

But there’s a catch.

Prices have really only dropped from “exorbitantly expensive” to “slightly less exorbitantly expensive”, according to new data from CoreLogic.

The data showed that as at 31 July, 2022, the national average house price dropped by 1.3 per cent month-on-month, with a quarterly decline of 2 per cent.

Not really big, sexy numbers if you ask me.

“The rate of growth in housing values was slowing well before interest rates started to rise, however, it’s abundantly clear markets have weakened quite sharply since the first rate rise on May 5,” CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said in a media release.

“Although the housing market is only three months into a decline, the national Home Value Index shows that the rate of decline is comparable with the onset of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2008, and the sharp downswing of the early 1980s.

“In Sydney, where the downturn has been particularly accelerated, we are seeing the sharpest value falls in almost 40 years.”

Per CoreLogic, property prices in Sydney and Melbourne fell by 2.2 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively. Values in Hobart were down 1.5 per cent while Canberra saw them drop by 1.1 per cent.

Over in Brisbane, property prices fell by 0.8 per cent — the first time they’ve dropped since August 2020.

Just to add shit to the stew, however, prices rose in Darwin, Adelaide and Perth (between 0.2 and 0.5 per cent).

To put those figures into perspective, Domain’s June 2022 house price report showed the average house price in Sydney was $1,552,015, while the average unit would’ve set you back $790,983.

That means if you wanted to cop a house in Sydney for less than $1 million (cue Michael Caton in The Castle telling you “you’re dreaming, mate”), the average property price would have to drop like a big, hefty, gluttonous ton of bricks.

House prices have also increased in Sydney at a truly bonkers trajectory. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, as at February 2022, the average house price in the city rose more than 55 per cent in less than three years. Cool!

Where does the GFC come into all of this, though?

“I think this downturn will be similar to the global financial crisis in that it will be quite short and sharp,” Lawless told the ABC.

If you need a recap on your GFC lore, per the Reserve Bank of Australia, in 2008 the US housing market flopped and acted as a catalyst for an economic crisis that spread across the world, due to interconnected financial systems.

Australia wasn’t too badly impacted compared to other countries but the ol’ economy did slow down, with the unemployment rate skyrocketing and house prices falling.

According to Domain, Australia’s average house price dropped by 1.4 per cent in the June 2008 quarter. It then fell by another 2.1 per cent in the three months to September of that year. Pretty quick sticks.

Basically, we could be getting a repeat of those decreases — but worse.

But if housing prices fall, won’t it make them more affordable, you ask?

Not really! Prices are definitely set to drop; per the ABC, property analysts reckon the average Aussie property price will fall — from peak to trough — between 10 and 20 per cent.

It’s nothing to turn your nose up at but Lawless doesn’t think it’ll make buying a house much easier.

“If we saw say, a 15 per cent drop in national housing values, it would take prices back to where they were in about April 2021,” he told the ABC.

CoreLogic data showed that in April 2021, the average house price was $624,997; in July 2022, it was $747,812.

TL;DR: Australian housing prices are falling the quickest they’ve done since the GFC but they’re still stupidly expensive so it won’t really make a dent. Also, if you’re looking to buy in Sydney, I reckon your best bet is winning lotto or marrying filthy rich.