House prices bounce back, rates remain unchanged and Australand agrees $2.6 billion deal

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Prices rebound 1.4 per cent in June
RPData-Rismark showed dwelling price gains erased the declines of May with a 1.4 per cent in June. Prices had fallen by 1.9 per cent in May amid talk of affordability issues and an overstuffed pipeline finally catching up to the market and forcing a correction. Volume has been unusually strong for the last month and is projected to remain stronger than the same period last year. Sydney and Melbourne lead the gains, but analysts estimate gross rental returns at only 3.9 per cent for capital city houses and 4.6 percent for units. Read the full story here.

Sydney home prices pulling away from the rest of Australia
RP Data-Rismark reports that the gap between Sydney’s prices and Melbourne’s nearly doubled over the last year, to $130,000 today from $68,000 a year ago. Prices nationwide have risen 10.1 per cent over the last 12 months – declines through May largely, and uncharacteristically, reversed by gains in June. Median dwelling price is $690,000 in Sydney. Read the full story here.
 
Realestate.com.au making moves to blunt rebel agent attack
News Corp’s dominating listings site, realestate.com.au, has supplanted Fairfax Media’s domain.com.au as the properties partner of The Queensland Times. The branding agreement with QT’s parent company Australian Regional Media starts October 1st. "This is a fantastic opportunity for our clients and readers – the biggest media brand in the regions combing with the biggest real estate advertiser,” said ARM chief executive Neil Monaghan. Realestate.com.au has been targeted by a phalanx of disaffected agents after raising its listing prices for the 10th straight year and changing its pricing formula in a way that penalises city brokers selling suburban real estate. While realestate.com.au holds about two-thirds of the listing market share, a set of high-powered agencies led by Century 21 appear to be cobbling together an association to challenge the site’s dominance. The REA Group, which operates realestate.com.au, will be discussing the competitive issues on a conference call with investors tomorrow morning. Read the full story here.
 
Australand gobbled up by Singapore-based Frasers Centrepoint for $2.6b
When one discusses foreign investment in Australian property, scale matters. Australand Property Group – which holds 68 major developable sites – struck an agreement last night to be taken over by Frasers Centerpoint for around $2.6 billion. Australand’s directors gave unanimous consent for the bid by the firm, controlled by Thai liquor magnate Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. An offer by rival developer Stockland – which owns 20 per cent of Australand – went nowhere in earlier talks. The sale to Frasers remains subject to shareholder approval and the Foreign Investment Review Board … which has distinguished itself over the last year by its failure to effectively review most real estate purchases from abroad. Read the full story here.
 
As expected, RBA leaves interest rates alone
Interest rates of 2.5 per cent have remained frozen for 10 months and essentially no one forecasts a change before the end of the year. The historically-low figure has fuelled growth in property investment and aided a long rise in real estate values, arguably crowding out first-time homebuyers. Rates present a long-term risk once the Reserve Bank of Australia begins to be less accommodative. The RBA noted that decline in commodity production is being matched by stronger consumer demand and an expansion in housing construction … both of which would be threatened by rising interest rates. The RBA sounded a note of caution around weakening wage growth, but “if these and other domestic costs remain contained, inflation should remain consistent with the target over the next one to two years, even with lower levels of the exchange rate.” Read the full story here.

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