Immigration has been a big driver of property prices and it’s taken a huge hit and may take a long while to recover. Thanks to travel bans, net immigration is likely to have fallen to just below 170,000 in 2019-20 and to around 35,000 this financial year from 240,000 last financial year. This is a huge hit which will take population growth in 2020-21 to just 0.7%, its lowest since 1917. See next chart. This will reduce annual underlying demand for homes to around 120,000 dwellings, compared to underlying demand last year of around 200,000. This could result in a significant oversupply of dwellings, and in turn could reverse the years of undersupply that has maintained very high house prices since mid-last decade. (See the population versus dwelling completions chart above.) A big cut to immigration is not something many other countries have to deal with, so their experience is not directly translatable to Australia. Of course, if this is just for a year, it wouldn’t have much lasting impact. And the return of expat Australians may provide a short-term offset. But with unemployment likely to remain high for some time, it will be hard politically for the Government to quickly ramp up immigration to previous levels, even once it is safe to do so from a coronavirus perspective. After the early 1990s recession net immigration stayed low at around 90,000 pa until the mid-2000s. All of which points to a long period of constrained housing demand and hence more constrained house prices.
During this time, Rands Financial Services Pty Ltd remains open by appointment. For buyers, it is the perfect opportunity to chat with our mortgage broker, Sally Pietersz (0434 391 331) about finance. Our Mortgage Brokers are accessible for appointments over 7 days at a time convenient to you. We could help you with your financing as well with our insights into the property market to make the right decision.