How have Aussie apartments fared in 2021 compared to houses?

Apartment building.

The Australian property market has shattered all expectations this year, with dwelling prices rising 22.2 per cent over the past 12 months and adding an extra $126,700 to the median value of an Australian home.

But dwelling prices combine both houses and units, and while units certainly haven’t underperformed, they have been overshadowed by the meteoric rise in house prices.

At the moment, the gap between the two is the widest it’s ever been. According to property research firm CoreLogic, the median capital city house price is now 37.9 per cent higher than median capital city unit price.

To put a dollar figure on that, a capital city house now costs around $240,500 more on average than a capital city unit. This is even more pronounced in Sydney, where a house is now $523,000 more expensive on average than a unit.

While the pace of growth in the harbour city has slowed in recent months as more stock goes to market, Sydney house prices will end the year up by more than 30 per cent — double the growth in unit prices.

House prices also outpaced units in Melbourne, but prolonged lockdowns over the year managed to keep both relatively subdued. It was in Brisbane and Adelaide, however, where the divide between house and unit markets was greatest.

In the 12 months to November 2021, house prices in Brisbane rose by nearly 30 per cent, compared to 11 per cent growth in apartments. And in Adelaide house prices jumped 24 per cent — three and a half times more than units. 

Annual change in capital city houses and apartments

CityHouses (% change year on year)Units (% change year on year)

CoreLogic research director, Tim Lawless said runaway house prices are currently testing buyers’ limits, and many are already turning to the apartment market for more affordable options.

“With such a large value gap between the broad housing types, it’s no wonder we are seeing demand gradually transition towards higher density housing options simply because they are substantially more affordable than buying a house,” he said.

Darwin and Hobart stand out as the only two capital cities where annual growth in apartments surpassed that of houses. 

CoreLogic head of residential research, Eliza Owen said high demand for units in Hobart comes down to high investor activity, along with a “mature aged demographic looking for downsizer or lower maintenance options.”

“CoreLogic estimates the vast majority of Hobart units are owned by investors, and units may be in high demand as the short term rental accommodation markets hold strong amid an uplift in domestic tourism.”

For more information on property and lending trends, head over to our home loan statistics page. And if you’re in the market for a home loan, visit our home loan comparison page, or browse the selection below.

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