Sydney Housing Market Insights: February 2021


The Urban Developer’s Sydney housing market insights for February reveals that despite volatility across 2020, Sydney’s residential market has remained resilient.

This resource, updated monthly, will collate and examine the economic levers pushing and pulling Sydney’s housing market.

Combining market research, rolling indices and expert market opinion, this evolving hub will act as a pulse check for those wanting to take a closer look at the movements across the market.

So, what were the highlights across Sydney’s property market throughout January 2021?

January 2021

In Sydney, property values fell 2.9 per cent between April and September 2020 but have since rebounded with prices at year’s end lifting by 3.73 per cent, with houses up 4.95 per cent and units 0.9 per cent, year on year.

House prices retreated to 0.4 per cent over the first month of the new year to reach a median value of $871,749 with houses down 0.7 per cent and units holding steady at 0.1 per cent.

The median house price in Sydney now exceeding $1 million according to Corelogic and $1.2 million according to Domain, a lift of by $55,000 or 4.8 per cent over the last three months.

However, the median unit price in Sydney remains $20,000 lower than before the onset of the pandemic last March.

Sydney median house and unit price values


^Source: Corelogic Hedonic Home Value Index - January

Sydney housing market affordability

CityHousehold income to meet mortgage repayments September 2019Household income to meet mortgage repayments September 2020

^Source: Moody's Investor Services - October

Sydney prestige property ranking

CityGlobal ranking 3-month change 12-month change

^Source: Knight Frank Prestige Property Index - November

House Prices Up Over the September Quarter

House Prices Up Over the September Quarter
Confidence in the property market is encouraging more people to buy...

Domestic Demand Fuels Prestige Property Prices

Domestic Demand Fuels Prestige Prices
Sydney’s prestige residential market is forecast to see price growth of 3 per cent this year...

Auction clearance rates have rebounded after falling to a 15-year low following a six-week ban on public auctions at the onset of the pandemic.

Following the season shutdown auction activity has ramped up with 82.9 per cent of listings across Sydney clearing in the final week of January.

Across 272 auctions, 170 were sold at a median price of $1.23 million, with 23 passed in and 12 withdrawn.

In the same week last year, Sydney saw a 72.9 per cent success rate across 158 auctions.

Agents have also noted an imbalance of more buyers than sellers which fixer-uppers and knockdowns seeing high demand, particularly properties ripe for redevelopment.

According to data from SQM Research, the number of residential listings on the market fell by 3.4 per cent in January compared to the previous month, as buyers snapped up the first available homes of the year.

Sydney auction clearance rates

WeekClearance rateTotal Auctions
Week ending 10 January 2021N/AN/A
Week ending 17 January 2021N/AN/A
Week ending 24 January 2021N/AN/A
Week ending 31 January 202182.9%272

^Source: Corelogic Auction Clearance Rates - January

Property Market Swings from Buyers to Sellers

Market Swings from Buyers to Sellers
The market is swinging in favour sellers with property prices on the up...

House Prices Set to Grow 9pc in 2021

House Prices Set to Grow 9pc in 2021
ANZ economists have significantly revised house price forecasts for 2021...

Sydney unit markets, where weak demand and high supply has driven a sharp drop in rents, remains significantly impacted by stalled overseas migration, especially from lower overseas student numbers.

According to Domain, apartment rents are currently sitting at 2013 levels, with the median asking rent for Greater Sydney units falling $25, or 5.1 per cent, over the December quarter to $470 a week.

Apartment rents fell by 5.6 per cent in Sydney over the past year, with inner-city areas generally harder hit.

The largest rental value declines where seen in the CBD and South Sydney region, where rental values were down 4.1 per cent over the last quarter.

Sydney residential rental vacancy rate

CityJan 2021 Vacancy Rate Monthly % changeJan 2021 total vacancies

^Source: SQM Research - January

Rental stock on market


^Source: SQM Research - January

Sydney rent prices

TypeRentMonthly % changeAnnual % change

^Source: SQM Research - January

Hobart Still Australia’s Least Affordable

Sydney’s Rental Affordability Improves
Sydney's rental affordability has improved, reveals annual analysis...

NSW Adds 500 Homes in Sydney’s Bonnyrigg

NSW Adds 500 Homes in Sydney’s Bonnyrigg
An extra 500 homes will be built on an 81-hectare in Sydney’s south-west...

Closed international borders from early 2020 have further weighed on developers’ appetite to build apartments as demand from foreign students virtually disappeared and is unlikely to reappear until late 2021 or early 2022 at the earliest.

Despite this, New South Wales recorded its highest private house approval figure across December since March 2000.

Dwelling approvals rose by 1.8 per cent while approvals for private sector houses surged by 16.2 per cent.

Investor lending surged over January, lifting for an eighth consecutive month, with new loan commitments for owner occupier housing lifting by 6.5 per cent over the month of December to be $6.45 billion.

The ongoing health crisis saw NSW lose the most residents of any state to interstate migration over the September quarter, with a net loss of 4,100 people–an extension of a long standing trend.

NSW building approvals

^Australian Bureau of Statistics - December (Suspension of trend series between May 2020 and Jul 2020 due to Covid-19)

DwellingApprovedMonthly % change

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics; Reference period December (Next Release 02/03/2021)

NSW home loan lending indicators

RegionFirst home buyer loan commitments First home buyer ratio - dwellingsFirst home buyer ratio - housing

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics - December (Next Release 01/03/2021)

NSW interstate migration

RegionSeptember (quarter) 2020 arrivalsSeptember (quarter) 2020 departuresJune 2020 net

^Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics - September 2020 quarter

Sydney’s housing market: policy updates

The HomeBuilder scheme will continue until the end of March in a bid to prevent a major decline in construction activity.

Read more: Home Builder Gains Eleventh Hour Extension

Recommendations to change the Review of Infrastructure Contributions will aim to improve infrastructure while enabling more efficient development and support housing affordability.

Read more: NSW to Clean Up Infrastructure Taxes, Spending

The central bank, which introduced a package of measures at its latest meeting, cut the cash rate target to 0.1 per cent—the lowest in Australia’s history, in its bid to support a recovery.

Read more: RBA Cuts Interest Rate in Bid to Build Economy

Sydney housing market forecasts

Westpac economists have forecast Sydney house prices are set to surge 14 per cent between 2021 and 2023 while analysts at the Reserve Bank have also projected house prices growth, plotting an increase by 30 per cent over the next three years—if low interest rates prevail.

NAB group chief economist Alan Oster has forecast a 7 per cent lift in Sydney’s housing prices over 2021 while ANZ economists are projecting an 8.8 per cent surge.

What the experts are saying about Sydney's housing market

Dr Nicola Powell

Nicola Powell
Senior Research Analyst

“The level of distressed sales has remained low throughout the pandemic, but I do think there are still future risks present for certain geographical locations, particularly within the CBD areas in Sydney.

“I think the greatest areas of concern are units and apartments in those CBD areas that are most reliant on overseas migration and foreign students, which have experienced higher vacancy rates and where rental prices have deteriorated rapidly.

“If an investor is struggling to attract a tenant there is only so long they can support that property with no rental income … so, as we see more properties come off mortgage holidays, we could well see more investors having to offload properties.”

Tim Lawless

Tim Lawless
Research Director

“The change between metro and regional housing demand in NSW has been more substantial than in other states.

“Internal migration data shows more people are leaving Sydney for regional areas, resulting in a transition of activity from the metro regions to the outer fringe and regional markets.

“This demographic trend is further compounded by the demand shock of stalled overseas migration.

“Sydney historically receives the vast majority of overseas migrants, these metro areas have been the hardest hit by this demand shock.”

Shane Oliver AMP

Shane Oliver
Chief Economist
Shane Oliver

“[Across 2021] I expect Sydney to experience gains of about 2 per cent, on average across the whole city.

“But within that, units in inner-city areas will probably go down 0-5 per cent, whereas outer suburbs houses will probably go up 5 to 7 per cent.

“I think employees’ and businesses’ attitudes to working from home have changed fundamentally as a result of this pandemic, which will change people’s attitudes towards commuting and lifestyle and ultimately where they choose to live.

“As a result, I’d expect regional areas within—a two-hour zone of Sydney—could be up towards 10 per cent next year.”

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