Dig deep into the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ residential property data for the past 15 years and you’ll discover some surprising truths about real estate.

The statistics, which cover the most recent 15-year period, between the June quarters of 2004 and 2019, demonstrate that some real estate ‘facts’ might not be facts at all.

For starters, here are three truths about property prices that might surprise you:

  • Houses don’t always outperform apartments
  • Capital cities don’t always outperform regional areas
  • Markets with bigger populations don’t always outperform markets with smaller populations

Before we share some more findings, let’s present the statistics, which cover growth in median prices between 2004 and 2019:

State Capital city – houses Capital city – apartments Regional – houses Regional – apartments
New South Wales 75.7% 81.6% 72.2% 54.3%
Victoria 121.1% 91.1% 87.2% 62.8%
Queensland 75.4% 54.6% 83.0% 43.9%
South Australia 82.5% 93.7% 62.7% 127.6%
Western Australia 83.2% 74.4% 77.0% 48.1%
Tasmania 117.8% 94.5% 97.8% 74.5%
Northern Territory 92.1% 105.3% 92.3% 156.2%
ACT 90.4% 43.3% N/A N/A

Take a closer look at the numbers and you might notice five more surprising truths:

  • Apartments outperformed houses in 5 of the 15 markets
  • Regional houses outperformed capital city houses in 2 of the 7 geographies
  • Regional apartments outperformed capital city apartments in 2 of the 7 geographies
  • Hobart outperformed Sydney
  • Regional Northern Territory outperformed Brisbane

Do your research before buying

The point of this deep dive is not to suggest that one type of property or location is better than another.

Rather, it’s to show that you can’t always take real estate ‘facts’ at face value.

Who would’ve imagined, for example, that Northern Territory regional apartments would’ve grown faster than houses in Sydney and Melbourne and every other capital city over the 15-year period?

The moral to the story is that when you buy property, you need to do your research and be careful about where you get your information.

Property markets move in cycles

Another interesting exercise is to compare the 15-year statistics between 2004 and 2019 with the five-year statistics between 2014 and 2019.

Some markets delivered almost identical average annual price growth during both periods:

 

Market Average annual change over 5 years Average annual change over 15 years
Victoria regional apartments +3.4% +3.5%
Brisbane houses +3.9% +4.1%
Queensland regional apartments +2.4% +2.6%

 

However, some markets had very different outcomes in the two periods:

 

Market Average annual change over 5 years Average annual change over 15 years
Darwin apartments -9.5% +5.3%
Western Australia regional houses -9.1% +2.8%
Perth apartments -4.6% +4.1%

 

The moral to this story is that property markets move in cycles. Just because a market is booming or busting today, it doesn’t mean it will be doing so tomorrow.

Again, that highlights the importance of doing your research before you make a purchase.

One more thing

For many Australians, properties aren’t just places of shelter, they’re also economic assets, which is why we obsess over prices.

However, you’re under no obligation to buy into this narrative.

If you prefer to think of your home as a sanctuary for your family – rather than an asset to be bought and sold – that’s perfectly fine.