22/09/2020 - 14:00

Google searches a leading indicator of housing market

22/09/2020 - 14:00

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Perth's residential property market is topping Google searches nationwide, with those results starting to reflect buyer demand.

Google searches a leading indicator of housing market
In 2020, there have been more Google searches for houses for sale in Perth, on average, than any other Australian capital city. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Perth's residential property market is topping Google searches nationwide, with those results starting to reflect buyer demand. 

Out the top 100 property-related Google searches conducted nationally, compiled by online visibility analysis website SEMrush, ‘Perth houses for sale’ has emerged as the most searched-for phrase so far in 2020.

Additionally, ‘Perth houses for sale’ has had the highest number of searches, on average, compared to any other Australian capital city.

It’s a trend also reflected in month-by-month comparisons, with Perth and Brisbane neck-and-neck as the most searched residential property markets in August.

SEMrush head of global marketing Olga Andrienko said her firm’s data suggested there was higher demand to purchase property in Western Australia than in any other state.

“The data indicates a significant interest in Perth, with national property searches clearly showing all eyes are on the capital city’s housing market,” Ms Andrienko said.

“Through search data, you can determine what type of property Australians are searching for nationally and on a state level.”

SEMrush found a total of 9,900 online searches conducted nationally for Perth houses, followed by 2,900 hits for Perth apartments during August 2020.

“By looking at search volume data, you can better predict migration patterns interstate and what types of properties are popular with buyers that you may not see in traditional property market reports,” Ms Andrienko said.

SEMrush’s monthly report, which seeks to give insight into buyer sentiment, also unveiled the most frequently searched property types by Western Australians.

Similar to national users, ‘Perth houses for sale’ topped the list of online searches originating in WA, followed by searches for apartments, units and then townhouses.

Now, it seems that search engine popularity is starting to transcend the online world and materialise on the ground.

Last week the Housing Industry Association reported Western Australia was the frontrunner for new home sales in the country, which were up 91.1 per cent in the six months to August – the highest of all states – compared to the same period the year before.

And for the established housing market, Momentum Wealth residential investment committee chair Emma Everett said growing consumer appetite, coupled with tightening sales stock, had led to increasing buyer competition for certain areas across Perth, particularly tightening sales stock in established suburbs.

“At the same time, Perth has recorded a sustained increase in buyer activity in the months following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, with sales activity trending 40 per cent higher in August compared to the same period in 2019, which is putting further downwards pressure on stock levels,” she said.

“These conditions are translating into an increasingly competitive market as buyers in high-demand areas compete for a reducing pool of properties.”

Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) data reflects that drop, having listed 10,667 properties for sale across Perth for the week ending September 13 – a fall of 23 per cent year-on-year.

Ms Everett said this was pushing house prices up in some pockets of Perth.

REIWA’s August data supported this, revealing increases in median sales prices for 45 per cent of Perth suburbs.

That had yet to flow through to headline price growth, she said, with the latest CoreLogic Hedonic Home Value Index recording zero change from July to August, but a decline of 1.6 per cent over the past three months.

Ms Everett said there were several suburbs outperforming Perth’s broader market.

These included Kingsley, Beldon and Mount Hawthorn, where limited stock led to homes being on market for fewer than 25 days, recording price growth of 6.3 per cent, 4 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively, over the past financial year.

Greater Perth recorded a 3.1 per cent decline over the same period.

While owner-occupiers had led the demand drive, Ms Everett said investors were still eyeing the Perth market.

This was despite the state government’s recent move to extend COVID-19 emergency laws, which prevented tenants from eviction and prohibited rent increases for existing tenants; a measure industry groups flagged as potentially detrimental to market growth.

However, for those properties being advertised, Momentum property managers had been reporting rent increases, with prospective tenants offering more to secure their property of choice as a result of Perth’s residential rental vacancy rate sitting at a 12-year low.

“Perth’s relative affordability, improving rental conditions, and early growth indicators are providing ideal conditions for investors with the right property selection criteria to enter the market at a reasonable price point and at a strong yield, while positioning themselves to leverage future market improvements,” Ms Everett said.

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