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Which City has the Cheapest Homes

Australian property prices continue to fluctuate in response to global economic challenges and local pandemic conditions. Capital city and regional prices have been revealed for September, with Melbourne housing values largely subdued and other states performing better than expected. There is a sharp discrepancy between relative value and growth in some locations, as different Australian cities wake from their slumber at a vastly different pace.

According to September figures from CoreLogic, the median value of dwellings across the country declined slightly over the month by 0.1%. National house values were flat at $571,395, and unit values were down 0.3% to $513,584. Most of the downward movement can be attributed to significant declines in Australia's two biggest cities, with 40% of the nation's housing stock and 55% of its value firmly contained in the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

According to Tim Lawless, CoreLogic’s Head of Research, “By far the weakest result across the capital cities, Melbourne housing values were down 0.9 per cent in September. Since peaking in March, Melbourne values are down 5.5 per cent. With restrictions starting to lift and private home inspections once again permitted, we expect to see activity lift in October." Melbourne property prices have fallen by roughly 5% since their latest recent peak in early April 2020, with opportunities increasingly available to buyers based on the unique nature of the current downturn. 

Darwin was the cheapest place to buy a home in Australia based on September results, with the Top End capital recording a median dwelling value of $398,885. Darwin also recorded the steepest upwards movement in value, however, with the average median price rising by 1.6%. Adelaide is the next most affordable capital at $444,321, followed by Perth at $445,717, and Hobart at $489,059. The rest of the country had median values in excess of half a million dollars, including Brisbane at $504,902, and Canberra at $644,581.

Melbourne recorded a median dwelling value of $666,796 after declining by 0.9% over the month, and Sydney reached $859,943 after dropping 0.3%. Real estate activity has been virtually non-existent in Melbourne over the last couple of months due to the stage-4 lockdown, with growth expected to return by the end of the year. Although housing values were generally positive over the month on a nationwide basis, the upwards trend of the last few years has clearly weakened since mid-to-late March due to the global pandemic.

While the regional property market in Australia shares some trends with the capitals, there are also many clear differences. Since COVID-19 really started to hit around March, regional values have fallen by 0.8% compared to -2.6% in the cities. Many regional markets have shown remarkable resilience over the last few months, with the pandemic actually increasing demand in some locations. Regional values didn't have as far to fall in the first place, with prices also buoyed by a transition of demand away from the cities, the normalisation of remote working arrangements, and an increased demand for lower density lifestyle opportunities.