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What happens to ASX shares if Australian house prices do fall 30%?

House Prices

What will happen to ASX shares if Australian house prices do actually fall 30% like some economists are predicting.

A lot is being made of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) predicted scenario where house prices may fall 30% due to the coronavirus. But that’s just one potential scenario. CBA isn’t saying house prices will fall 30%, it isn’t the most likely outcome – just a worst-case one.

How far do banks think property will fall?

However, all of the big four ASX banks are now predicting that house prices are probably going to fall by more than 10%. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in some areas house prices have already dropped 10%, it just isn’t reflected in the statistics yet.

Obviously if house prices were to drop it would be bad news for a wide variety of ASX shares. For starters, I think CBA, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) would all suffer.

I believe the regional lenders would also suffer. The pain may be smaller in dollar terms, but don’t forget their loan books are smaller too. In percentage terms it could be just as bad, if not worse. I’d watch for the effects on Bank of Queensland Limited (ASX: BOQ) and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd (ASX: BEN).

If house prices dropped 30% then that could cause higher bank bad debts due to negative equity.

I think it could also be bad for property businesses that are somewhat reliant on a robust property market. Think of shares like REA Group Limited (ASX: REA), Domain Holdings Australia Ltd (ASX: DHG), CSR Limited (ASX: CSR), Beacon Lighting Group Ltd (ASX: BLX) and Nick Scali Limited (ASX: NCK). Share prices would probably fall.

The negative effect could be a noticeable negative for many areas of the economy like we saw during the first half of 2019. And think of all of the taxes generated by property values for various areas of government – stamp duty, council rates and so on.

Falling house prices may be good for one group of people, avocado eaters may finally be able to afford a house.

Do I think house prices will fall 30%?

Australia’s economy is quite reliant on property. Would property buyers really let Aussie house prices fall that far? Maybe everyone would jump in at a 20% reduction. Interest rates are now incredibly low which makes it easier to afford a property.

I certainly expect property will fall over 10% (some property buyers say they already have in parts). But I think a 30% won’t happen because of the Aussie love for property and how much support there is and will be for property prices.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended REA Group Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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