Stormclouds on the horizon for the construction industry

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GREG Weller, HIA Executive Director, ACT & Southern NSW, has released the latest Outlook Report for the Australian Capital Territory.

“In line with national trends, the latest ACT report confirms that 2015/16 has been a bumper year for home building in the nation’s capital,” Greg said.

“This has been primarily on the back of multi-unit developments, but as they say ‘what goes up must come down’, which is what we are expecting to see in the years ahead as the mix between high density and detached housing shifts back in the direction of the latter.

“New dwelling starts are estimated to have increased by some 27.2% during 2015/16. However, this is projected to be followed by a 20.1% reduction in 2016/17 and another fall of 3.6% in 2017/18. During 2018/19, an increase of 4.2% is forecast to bring new dwelling starts in the ACT to 4,127.

“Following a difficult few years for detached house building, we expect fairly consistent growth in new building activity on that side of the market. The challenges are likely to be on the multi-unit side, with sizeable falls in activity forecast for both this year and next.

“It is by no means doom and gloom for the unit sector of the market, with key developments such as the investment in the Northbourne Avenue light rail project likely to support higher density living.

“It is also noteworthy in the report that while the ratio of dwelling price to average earnings in Canberra for detached homes is right on the national average, strong supply of units in the ACT has kept this ratio around 25% below the average of all capitals, suggesting there is comparative affordability in the ACT unit market.

“Activity in the ACT renovations market is estimated to have increased by 7.1% during 2015/16. During 2016/17, renovations activity is expected to grow by 3.1% with a further 5.0% uplift projected for 2017/18. The rate of growth is predicted to lose a little steam in 2018/19 (+1.2%) bringing the value of the ACT renovations market to $405 million.

“Low interest rates and steady house price growth tend to be the precursors of a performing renovation market. Since 2012 Canberra has had the smallest increase in house prices across the nation for all capital cities, which has been reflected in some fairly dire results for the renovations sector over the past few years.

“If the ACT can reach the $405 million in renovation activity projected in 2018/19, that will make it the third best year in a decade, which will be very positive for this sector of the industry.”

[Photo by woodleywonderworks, attribution licence]

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