The ABS is independent of government, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 giving the Statistician the power to control the operations of the ABS. For further information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
Residential property prices are of significant interest to policy makers, market analysts and researchers for a range of economic and social reasons. This is because the housing market plays an important role in the Australian economy. The Residential Property Price indexes serve the dual purpose of: a macroeconomic indicator of residential property price inflation; and supporting the compilation of the non-financial assets component of the Household Balance Sheet in the Australian System of National Accounts.
The Residential Property Price Index publication includes a suite of three indexes (referred to collectively as 'the indexes'): The Residential Property Price Index (RPPI), the Established House Price Index (HPI) and the Attached Dwellings Price Index (ADPI). These indexes provide quarterly information about the price change of the stock of established detached houses and attached dwellings over time, as well as an aggregated index. Separate indexes are produced for each Capital City, and these are combined to produce a weighted average index of the eight capital cities.
To maintain the relevance of the indexes an index review is undertaken every five years, following the availability of data from the Census of Population and Housing. The quantities of dwellings that underpin the weights of the index are updated at this time. It also provides an opportunity to reassess the compilation methodology of the index. The most recent index review occurred in relation to the 2011 Census.
The ABS uses a stratification approach to compile the indexes. Dwelling transactions are stratified by dwelling type, long term median price and Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA). Similar dwellings (not exactly the same dwellings) are priced each period and changes in other characteristics of the dwelling stock are not removed from the price index. The change in the median dwelling transaction prices of these strata from quarter to quarter are weighted together to produce a measure of price change at the capital city level.
Estimates are also available for the median price and transfer counts of established houses and attached dwellings for capital cities in Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities (cat. no. 6416.0). Additional outputs for median price and transfer counts for the rest of state for established houses and attached dwellings are available in a time series spreadsheet on the ABS website.
Also published are statistics relating to the total value of the dwelling stock, the mean price and number of residential dwellings by state. These indicators are used to estimate the value of housing as a component of wealth in the national accounts.
The Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities (cat. no. 6416.0) is released each quarter, (three months ending March, June, September and December). The data are typically released approximately 12 weeks after the reference quarter, in line with the Australian National Accounts: Finance and Wealth (cat. no. 5232.0). Price observations are collected throughout the quarter and are classified into the relevant quarter depending on the date of exchange of contracts.
The median price and number of all established houses and attached dwellings transfers for capital cities and rest of state is published up to the current quarter. As more unit record residential property sales data are received, the median price and the number of houses and attached dwellings transfers are revised as necessary. The usual practice is to update the most recent ten quarters of published figures.
The accuracy of the indexes relies on the number of price observations available each quarter. All Australian residential property sales data are supplied to the ABS by CoreLogic RP Data. This dataset is a combination of residential property sales data obtained from State and Territory Land Titles Office or Valuers General Offices in each capital city (collectively referred to as VGs) and real estate agents data provided to CoreLogic RP Data. The ABS applies classifications to this dataset to create the residential property sales dataset from which the price indexes and related statistics are produced.
The first issue of the RPPI in its current form was the December quarter 2013. This series (Series 3) is based on data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing and includes updated weights and stratification variables which have been linked to the previous series (Series 2) from the March quarter 2013. The HPI has a time series starting from the March quarter 2002. The ADPI and aggregated RPPI have a time series starting from the September quarter 2003.
Prior to the December quarter 2013, the HPI was the only series published. In the December quarter 2008 issue, updated weights and a refined stratification method based on 2006 Census data were introduced and linked to the existing HPI series (Series 1) at the March quarter 2008. Series 1 was introduced in the September quarter 2005 issue (with improvements applied back to the March quarter 2002). The most significant change was the introduction of a stratification approach to compile the HPI.
An historical series, from 1986 to 2005, continues to be available as an indicator of established house price movements over a longer period. This historical series is not directly comparable to the existing HPI series post 2002 due to the significant changes in methodology introduced in the September quarter 2005 issue.
The Residential Property Price Indexes: Eight Capital Cities publication (cat. no. 6416.0) contains Explanatory Notes which provide an overview of the scope, coverage, data sources and methodology of the published series. Appendices are included when appropriate (for example, to explain the outcome of a methodological review).
More detailed information abouth the technical aspects of the residential property price indexes and related statistics can be found in the Residential Property Price Indexes: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2014 (cat.no. 6464.0) and the Feature Article: Implementation of the ABS Residential Property Price Index Review Outcomes in the March quarter 2015 publication. An updated Concepts, Sources and Methods document will be released by the end of 2015.
All available data is released in the RPPI publication and associated time series spreadsheets on the ABS website each quarter and can be accessed via the ABS website:https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6416.0.
For links to data and publications relating to the Residential Property Price Indexes and other Prices series, please see Topics @ a Glance - Inflation and Price Indexes.