PERTH property prices fell again in April, down 0.4 per cent to $440,546 according to the CoreLogic Home Value Index.
Over the three months to April prices declined 2.3 per cent and were down 8.3 per cent for the year.
Within the Perth market, smaller declines were seen in the upper quartile, while the Mandurah region was one of the weakest performing capital city areas.
Australia wide, values decreased 0.5 per cent for the month and were down 7.2 per cent for the year.
This is the largest annual fall since the 12 months ending February 2009, which was associated with the GFC.
Looking at individual markets, Canberra was the only capital city to record a price increase in April (up 0.4 per cent), while the regional areas in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia also saw prices rise.
Head of research Tim Lawless said the national rate of decline had improved and this was attributable to an easing in the market downtown across Sydney and Melbourne where values were previously falling much faster.
“We are seeing further evidence that the worst of the housing market conditions are now behind us,” he said.
“Values are still broadly declining, however the pace of decline has moderated since December last year and there are some tentative signs that credit flows have improved, albeit from a low base.
“Considering that tighter credit conditions were one of the primary catalysts for the housing market downturn, any sign that credit availability is improving would be a welcome outcome for the housing market.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), lending to households for dwellings (excluding refinancing) was up 2.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis in February.
A rise in CoreLogic valuation platform activity throughout March suggests a further improvement in housing finance.
The possibility of an interest rate cut also held some hope for the market.
“The prospect for lower interest rates is another factor that could support an improvement in housing market activity later this year,” Mr Lawless said.
“While borrowers are facing tougher serviceability assessments and scrutiny around their overall debt levels relative to their income and expenses, lower mortgage rates will certainly be a net positive for the housing market.
“Mortgage rates are already around the lowest level since the 1960’s and any further reduction is likely to be well received by the market.”
Mr Lawless said the Federal election outcome could deliver a wildcard for the housing market.
“A change of government could see taxation policies relevant to the housing market rolled back or removed which would be an overall negative for investment demand,” he said.
“According to the ABS, investors currently comprise only 26.8 per cent of the value of mortgage demand (excluding refiinancers), down from 42 per cent in early 2015 and well below the decade average of 34 per cent.
“A further reduction in investment activity without a commensurate rise in owner occupier activity would likely place further downwards pressure on housing prices, especially across the heavily supplied high density sector of the market.”