新南威尔士大学经济学教授理查德·霍尔顿(Richard Holden)说：“澳大利亚长期以来一直迷恋住宅物业。” “很多人的财产都与住宅物业联系在一起。我很担心这个现状。”
汇丰控股有限公司(HSBC Holdings Plc)澳大利亚首席经济学家，前央行行长保罗•布洛瑟姆(Paul Bloxham)表示：“移民将成为推动住房市场动态的最大特征。” “我们看到对自用物业的需求减弱，对出租物业的需求减弱以及对学生的物业需求减弱。”
For the past two decades, Australia’s housing market has mostly been a one-way bet on rising prices.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has upended property markets from Canada to Singapore, Australia is more vulnerable than most to a housing slump. It has one of the world’s highest levels of household debt, the nation’s banks are heavily exposed to mortgage lending, and many mom and pop investors rely on income from rental properties, which are also under pressure.
“Australia’s had an obsession with residential property for a long time,” said Richard Holden, professor of economics at the University of New South Wales. “A lot of people have a lot of their wealth tied up in residential property. I’m pretty worried.”
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s largest home lender, estimates that under a short, sharp economic downturn this year followed by a quick recovery next year, house prices will fall 11% by March 2023. In the worst-case scenario of a prolonged recession, prices could plunge 32%.
That’s a marked reversal from before coronavirus hit, when house prices were back near boom-time peaks, having rebounded rapidly after a 21-month slump bottomed out. Longer term, home values have tripled since the turn of the century, propelling Sydney and Melbourne into the ranks of the world’s least-affordable places to buy.
Then there’s the sudden drying up of immigration, which has been one of the key drivers of house prices, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne where new arrivals tend to settle.
On a net basis, more than 470,000 immigrants moved to Australia over the past two years. Now, with borders shut and international travel unlikely to resume anytime soon, the government is forecasting immigration will slump 85% in the year starting July 1.
“Migration is going to the biggest feature of what drives housing market dynamics,” said Paul Bloxham, chief economist for Australia at HSBC Holdings Plc, and a former central bank official. “We see weaker demand for owner-occupied property, weaker demand for rental property and weaker demand for property for students.”
That leaves them in a precarious position if tenants can’t pay rent. While evictions have been suspended for six months, there is no financial support for renters, and instead the government has urged landlords and tenants to negotiate rent breaks themselves.
Meantime, tens of thousands of international students are stranded overseas, leaving their rental apartments empty, while the shuttering of tourism has seen AirBnB units flood back to the market.
Rents in Sydney have fallen about 6% from a year ago, and will decline further if high vacancy rates are sustained, he said. “That’s good news for tenants but a disaster for landlords.”