“What economists are ignoring are the emotional and security connections that Australians have to property,” he said.
“Australians don’t simply view their property as an ‘asset’ they view it as a home.
That has been demonstrated strongly during these challenging times.
What people have been missing most is having friends and family over to their home, or visiting the homes of friends and family.
“We have seen an increase in people committing to improving their homes through refurbishment and the like. They have spent time considering what sort of home they want to live in now and in the future and researching that.
“The message is it’s a home, not simply something they own. I have seen no evidence of that attitude disappearing. It’s actually increasing.”
Buyer activity is up 50 per cent nationally on this time last year, despite the widespread uncertainty and fears created by COVID-19 and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.
Traditionally such upswings in interest have resulted in a rise in market transactions.
Mr Ellis’s predictions stand in opposition to those which have outlined a possible fall in house prices of up to 30 per cent. The long-term CEO, who has entered his 16th year as First National boss, believes such a slump is highly unlikely.
That stance is also supported by Adrian Kelly, President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia.
“We can only look at what is happening in the market place at the moment as well as in previous times of high unemployment to provide pointers to likely outcomes,” Mre Kelly said.
“Currently we have a situation where listings are decreasing yet the enquiry level from
prospective buyers is increasing. It is simple economics that when supply decreases
and demand remains that prices edge upwards. They certainly don’t drop.
“It needs also to be remembered that in ‘the recession we had to have’ interest rates for
housing loans were around double what they currently are.”
“I do not believe that this points to a catastrophic outlook for house prices.”
Listings remain an issue in the market. However anecdotal evidence from selling agents and internet search data indicates an increase in property listings will come onto the market in time for spring.
“It comes back to the fundamentals of what property ownership means in Australia,” Mr Ellis said.
“It is my home. It is the roof over my head. That is the thrust of COVID-19.”