FROM the relative comfort of regional NSW, it has been easy to see Sydney’s overheated housing market as a nightmare worth avoiding.
It would be incorrect to say that market had no bearing on the Hunter, with the tyranny of distance and a slow-moving intercity train perhaps the only impediments on a northern migration.
As it stands, real estate agents have long claimed Sydney buyers had turned their eyes toward the region.
But while those benefits may have flowed north, the gloomier predictions for the near future are also arriving.
CoreLogic figures show Newcastle’s prices slipped slightly in the September quarter, dropping 2.2 per cent. The figure itself may seem innocuous but a glance to Sydney and Melbourne, where prices have been sliding for a year, also offers cause for caution.
Unit prices are steadier, moving less that half a percentage point, which will offer relief to those with skin in the game of Newcastle’s apartment boom.
It also dovetails with the Hunter’s Housing Industry Association executive director, Craig Jennion, who argues our increasing supply naturally leads to a reduction in cost.
“We’ve started to see a lot of multi-unit (projects) come out of the ground in the last couple of years and we’re seeing a lot of construction, so I would think we’ll continue to see more supply come on in the townhouse end of the market in the next 18 months,” Mr Jennion said.
“The apartment side of things, yes, there’s still a lot of approvals coming out of councils, but we may not always see all of those get constructed as we start to see that supply come on line.”
For those who have invested much of their lives in their homes, any negative movement in the prices will raise alarm bells.
But the data comes as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg argues the weakening in Sydney and Melbourne is “healthy for the economy”.
It should also be noted that a relatively small dip offers a modicum of relief to would-be first home buyers who are fighting to keep pace with a market during a continued boom.
For most, property is a matter of buying a place to live with value that will not slide down the slope if price pressures mount.
While investors may furrow their brows at the backslide in prices, the figures may be a blip or a canary in a coal mine.
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