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Comparison of the week: Property prices 2018 vs 2019

house prices COW 450

How much have property prices really dropped in Australia, and where?

We compare virtually everything at Finder and our Comparison of the Week isn't afraid to tackle the big questions. This week we look at property prices in 2018 versus today to see the incredible changes in housing prices.

You probably know that housing prices in Australia are out of control. Unless you've been living under a rock. And if you have, congratulations: that rock is probably worth over a million dollars now.

But over the last 12 months prices in Sydney, Melbourne and a few other cities have been falling, often quite dramatically.

The essentials

To really understand just how much prices have fallen, we've taken median prices (averaging the middle point of the market, where most properties fit) using the most recent CoreLogic data from February 2019.

Then we have compared those figures to the data from a year before.

The comparison

CityFebruary 2018February 2019Difference
Sydney$880,743$789,339- $91,404
Melbourne$723,334$629,457- $93,877
Brisbane$491,850$490,635- $1,215
Adelaide$433,354$432,946- $408
Perth$464,474$438,952- $25,522
Hobart$416,840$457,186+ $40,346
Darwin$426,421$397,876- $28,545
Canberra$588,616$594,351+ $5,735

Source: CoreLogic Home Values Index (February 2018 and 2019)

The verdict

While the last 12 months of price falls is welcome news for first home buyers, we need to view these figures in a wider context. Yes, the numbers show that median prices in both Sydney and Melbourne have fallen by almost $100,000 in both cities. But these two cities led price growth for most of the 2010s, so it's not surprising they're now leading the decline.

Price falls in Brisbane and Adelaide are much smaller. Perth and Darwin really have their own stories to tell, with prices in these cities falling over a longer term as the mining boom winds down. Prices in these cities grew rapidly in the boom years.

Not all cities are seeing declines. Prices have grown modestly in Canberra in the last 12 months, and median prices in Hobart grew by over $40,000 in the last year. However, these cities also didn't experience the extreme growth in prices that Sydney and Melbourne did.

So does this mean houses in Sydney and Melbourne are cheap now? Absolutely not! There are suburbs in Sydney where a $455,000 house in 2012 was worth $920,000 in 2017. That's 102% growth in five years. The market might be in sharp decline now, but housing in Sydney and Melbourne has been unaffordable for years.

Pundits (and parents) talking about avocado toast and millennial spending are living under a very expensive rock.

Suburbs in Sydney where prices have almost doubled in 5 years.
The image above shows some of Sydney's high-growth suburbs. Source: Finder's FOMO suburbs.

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