October 2015 may just be remembered as the month when the great Australian housing boom came to an end.
First-home buyers will be cheering, but there's more at stake here and a house price decline couldn't come at a worse time for the Australian economy.
The weekend before last, auction clearance rates (the percentage of houses that sell at auction) hit their lowest level in three months - the best indication yet the housing market is slowing.
It followed a week in which Westpac raised its home loan rates by 0.2 basis points, with the other banks expected to follow suit.
It was the first interest-rate rise for homeowners in years and signals what could be an end to the record-low interest rates that have fuelled the housing market in recent years.
Macquarie Bank has made a very specific and potentially bold prediction that house prices will decline by as much as 7.5 per cent over the next two years, starting in March next year.
There are concerns that an increase of housing supply coming on to the market (thanks to all those Chinese buyers snapping up newly built apartments) and slowing population growth will hit the housing market. Add to that the bank's previous interest-rate rises for investment property and the housing market does indeed start to look a little wobbly.
Housing investment is often damned as "an unproductive asset", and that's true to a point - it doesn't turn out widgets, develop new industrial processes or make us more efficient or smarter.
But it does kick the economy along.
In fact, the soaring housing markets in Sydney - where the median home price is over A$1 million ($1.06 million) - and Melbourne are what's been propping up the economy as it struggles with the end of the mining boom.
Home buyers spend up big at Bunnings and Harvey Norman. When house prices rise, existing homeowners feel richer and spend more at restaurants, on holidays, on home improvements and all sorts of other things. And higher property prices induce more homebuilding and all the resulting employment for architects, tradesmen and decorators. A lot of people could find themselves without work if the apartment-building boom comes to an end.
Westpac's rate hike will lift the repayments on a A$500,000 loan by A$63 a month. That may not sound like a lot on its own, but it's A$63 that the householder won't spend on pizza or dry cleaning or put into their retirement savings.
Multiply that by a few million households around the country and that's a lot of money going to banks rather than to other businesses.
Worse, though, is the damage that falling house prices and rising interest rates could do to Australia's fragile consumer and business confidence.
For most homeowners, a fall in property prices is a paper loss only because they hold on to their property for years. But someone who paid a million dollars for their house at the top of the cycle could make a notional A$75,000 loss if Macquarie's prediction is correct, and they'll feel it keenly.
The ascension of the visionary and optimistic Malcolm Turnbull to the prime ministership has done a lot to restore confidence among consumers and businesses - if people start feeling poor and become concerned about losing money on their homes, that will be reversed.
Confidence and spending induced by house price rises can't go on forever, but now would be the worst possible time for a cooling of the housing market.
Westpac slugs shareholders, tooWestpac is hiking interest rates because it needs to hold more capital to satisfy new requirements to make banks stronger and safer, and has decided that it will share the pain between homeowners and shareholders.
From July next year, banks will be required to hold 50 per cent more of capital against home loans than they did previously, so Westpac's big three competitors are expected to follow suit with the rate cut.
The bank is also selling new shares to investors as it seeks to raise A$3.5 billion to shore up its capital requirements.
The decision to hike rates - independent of any move by the Reserve Bank of Australia - came as the bank announced a 3 per cent rise in its full-year cash profit to A$7.82 billion and increased dividend.
That's good news for shareholders in the short term, but over the longer term they will also feel the effects of the tougher capital requirements that are being introduced in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Holding more capital - in the form of cash or bonds or other approved securities - means Westpac's returns on capital will be reduced, hitting growth in profits and dividends.
And if Westpac and the other banks' interest rate rises contribute to a weaker housing and home loan market, then that will put an even bigger dent in their profits.