Perth, regional Queensland alone in property clock's growth phase

The timing is right for only one capital city property market, while for the others the clock seems to be ticking on a significant period of decline, according to Michael Matusik's property clock.

Elizabeth Quay in Perth
Perth's property market stood alone among the country's capital cities on the property clock. (Image source:

The property clock is an often used - yet simple tool - to display where select markets are positioned in the housing cycle.

I have been using my version of the property clock for close to three decades and have found it is an effective way to display the comparative heat in the housing market. 

Most people can understand the clock and it is a tool worth incorporating in a discussion about the housing market.

There are four phases in the housing cycle, namely recovery, upswing, downturn and stagnation. 

The market is rising between the recovery and upswing phases; it peaks between upswing and downturn; it declines between downturn and stagnation and once it bottoms it starts again.

It is often best to think of the four phases of the housing cycle as seasons: recovery is spring, upswing in summer, downturn is autumn and stagnation is winter. The temperatures relate to the housing market’s relative heat. 

But unlike the seasons, the property cycle phases are not equidistant in terms of time. Typically, an upswing and downturn are shorter when compared to a recovery and stagnation.

Matusik - Detached Houses

Also, when a market significantly overheats, or is substantially oversupplied, during the upswing phase of the cycle, then the following downturn can be sharp and the stagnation long. 

Sometimes a market will miss a cycle – which history suggests typically takes between seven and eight years between peaks – as a result of the previous exuberance. Think the mining towns in the 2000s or the Gold Coast during the 1990s as more recent examples.

The market positions depend on the balance between supply and demand, with demand exceeding supply during the recovery and upswing phases and the reverse happening during a downturn. Throughout stagnation the market is often more equally balanced between housing listed for sale and buyers.

Late 2023 may see property market upswing

It is also rare to see the housing market as congested around the peak and downturn phases as shown in my current property clock. The last time the detached housing markets were similarly positioned was between 1987 and 1989. 

And while the economic conditions and policy responses were different in the late 1980s compared to now, note that there was very little price growth for a long period of time once the overheated market peaked in 1989.   

For many markets the conditions in 2023 looks set to be a hard, yet the second half of 2023 looks better than the first half of this year, with interest rate rises likely over and confidence expected to return to the housing sector.

Remember, not all markets are in the same position in the property cycle and some locations will come out of the current downturn faster than others, while a handful have not yet peaked.

Detached housing property clock indicators

Capitals Sales market Rental Property Clock position
Sales For Sale Asking $ For rent Asking $
Sydney Downturn
Melbourne Downturn
Brisbane Downturn
Adelaide Downturn
Perth Upswing
Canberra Downturn
Hobart Downturn
Darwin Peak

Matusik, Powered by Domain (Price Finder), SQM Research + ABS. April 2023.

Article Q&A

Where are property prices rising?

Property analyst Michael Matusik's property clock for detached houses identifies Perth as the only capital city in a rising market, along with a string of regional Queensland towns and cities.

Where are property prices falling in Australia?

Property analyst Michael Matusik's property clock for detached houses has Darwin at the peak of the market cycle, and Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart, together with regional centres like Geelong, Launceston and Wollongong in a downturn phase.

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