Amid the doom and gloom surrounding the Melbourne housing market, the city’s median sale price actually crept up last year.
Victoria’s peak real estate body found Melbourne’s house median rose 1.4 per cent from $815,000 in 2017 to $826,500 in 2018.
The figure was pulled up by booming outer suburbs including Mt Martha, Officer and Cranbourne North, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.
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But a lacklustre December quarter, in which the house median fell 3.7 per cent, ensured the annual gains were only slight.
Melbourne’s unit median also increased 1.8 per cent to $597,000 in 2018.
REIV president Robyn Waters said despite sluggish auction clearance rates, a 20 per cent annual drop in residential sales and low confidence in the market, vendors who did offload homes still achieved good prices in 2018.
“It might take you a bit longer to sell and you might have to put in a bit more effort,” she said.
“But the big picture is showing house prices have increased slightly in Melbourne.”
A recent report from another property data firm, CoreLogic, found Melbourne house values fell 9.1 per cent and unit values, 2.3 per cent, in 2018.
But the REIV figures only take into account residences that sold in the city last year, while CoreLogic calculated the median estimated value of all residences in greater Melbourne, not just those that changed hands.
Melbourne’s outer ring (houses up 3.1 per cent) and regional Victoria (up 5.5 per cent) were the big winners of 2018, according to REIV, with affordability, improving infrastructure and first-home buyer incentives boosting demand.
The capital’s top 20 annual growth suburbs for houses were all more than 20km from the city, and many of them in the southeast, with Mt Martha notably rising 12.3 per cent to a $1,100,500 median.
It was followed by Officer (up 10.7 per cent to $587,500), Cranbourne North (10.1 per cent, $600,000), Hampton Park (10 per cent, $550,000) and Pakenham (9.3 per cent, $530,000).
Bonaccorde director Amanda Haimona expected “sleeping giant” Mt Martha to continue rising in 2019.
While formerly dominated by holiday-makers and retirees, the Mornington Peninsula suburb was attracting more permanent homebuyers thanks to new infrastructure like Balcombe Grammar School and the Peninsula Link, and flexible work arrangements allowing work from home, she said.
Nicholas Lynch Real Estate director Nicholas Lynch said Mt Martha had also been boosted by the fact neighbouring Mornington had become a “satellite city” with all the amenities a resident could need.
“Mornington’s like Chapel St now, with what it offers,” he said.
Regionally, Loch Sport, Wonthaggi, Maryborough and Ballarat suburbs Wendouree and Golden Point all jumped more than 20 per cent.
Melbourne’s inner and middle rings both experienced 2018 median house price falls, of 4.1 and 2.2 per cent respectively.
But Ms Waters said strong December quarters in Malvern East, Thornbury and Hawthorn indicated improving confidence in Melbourne’s prestige areas.
“The REIV expects Victoria’s property market to remain steady in the first half of 2019, as we await the outcome of the banking royal commission and federal election,” she said.
“But things should begin to look up again in the second half of the year.”
MELBOURNE MARKET MEDIAN SALE PRICES 2018
Houses: up 1.4% annually to $826,500, down 3.7% in December qtr
Units: up 1.8% annually to $597,000, down 1.7% in December qtr
Top annual growth suburbs for houses
1. Mt Martha: up 12.3% to $1,100,500
2. Officer: up 10.7% to $587,500
3. Cranbourne North: up 10.1% to $600,000
4. Hampton Park: up 10% to $550,000
5. Pakenham: up 9.3% to $530,000
6. Langwarrin: up 9% to $655,000
7. Tarneit: up 9% to $567,000
8. Carrum Downs: up 8.8% to $580,000
9. Taylors Hill: up 8.7% to $750,000
10. Keysborough: up 8.4% to $835,000
Top annual growth suburbs for units
1. Frankston: up 11.9% to $445,000
2. Richmond: up 11.5% to $640,000
3. Brunswick West: up 10.5% to $482,500
4. Caulfield North: up 9% to $725,000
5. Dandenong: up 8.5% to $385,000
6. North Melbourne: up 7.5% to $582,500
7. Pascoe Vale: up 6.9% to $620,000
8. Coburg: up 4.4% to $615,750
9. Noble Park: up 4.4% to $470,000
10. Preston: up 4.3% to $572,000
Source: REIV for year to December 31, 2018