Nation confidence up – driven by major bounce out of WA

Confidence across the property sector has lifted to its highest level since 2014 according to the latest quarterly ANZ/Property Council Survey.

Nationwide confidence rose from 132 to 135 for the June 2017 quarter.  A score of 100 is considered neutral.

The lift in confidence can be attributed to a dramatic confidence bounce in Western Australia following the State election in March as well as a lift in the forward work schedule and staffing expectations. The increase in the State’s confidence rating from 98 to 118 is one of the largest lifts in a single quarter ever recorded by this survey. 

The sentiment survey is the largest of its kind with more than 1,600 industry professionals participating.

While NSW continues to record the highest level of confidence of any state or territory, the latest results report a fall from 149 to 145. This was the first confidence survey conducted following the change in the State’s leadership.

“What is remarkable about the outcome is that we are seeing increasing confidence across the sector despite a hardening view that interest rates will increase and that the banks will continue to tighten credit,” said Property Council’s Chief Executive Ken Morrison

“National forward work schedules, staffing expectations and growth expectations are all trending up.

“Nationwide, we are expecting capital growth in housing prices with all states reporting a lift in confidence. However, the industry is concerned about the broader economic impact of rising house prices.

“For the first time in the survey, housing affordability is rated as the number one economic issue. All Australians will be looking to the Budget to lay out the policy foundations needed to respond to this increasing economic challenge.

“Though not as strong as residential capital growth expectations, office capital growth expectations have also improved. Sentiment has increased for construction activity in the office market sector by 6 points over the past year.

“Industry participants are down on all governments across Australia. The only government with a positive net rating is NSW. The rating of the Federal Government has deteriorated in every jurisdiction and is negative in all states and territories. The deep disillusionment of incumbents reporting in opinion polls seems to be making its way into industry sentiment about governments of all political persuasions.

“All jurisdictions have reported falls in foreign residential property sales over the past three months.”

David Plank, Head of Australian Economics at ANZ said one area of agreement across the states is that the availability of debt finance continues to tighten.

“Funding conditions are now at their worst in five years. This is consistent with banks tightening their lending criteria, especially in the residential space. We have also seen banks’ funding costs increase, and this has been passed on through out-of-cycle interest rate hikes in recent weeks.

“Despite tighter funding conditions and the likelihood of higher interest rates, expectations of house price growth continue to rise. Higher indebted households are certainly vulnerable to any significant increase in interest rates, but still strong sentiment in the sector appears to be underpinning the strong price outlook.

“In the commercial property space, sentiment continues to nudge higher. Overall, 66% of respondents expect their forward work schedules to increase over the next 12 months, and 47% expect their staffing requirements to increase.

“The ANZ/Property Council Survey shows an improving outlook for the property market and the Australian economy, which is broadly consistent with recent data flow.”

Media contact: Paul Ritchie  |  [email protected]

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