Canberra’s housing market ‘surges’ to the top

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FOR the first time in six years, the ACT housing market has “surged” to the top spot of the Housing Industry Association’s bi-annual scorecard.

In less than a year, the ACT overtook Victoria, NSW, QLD, SA and Tasmania, with an overall score of 78, up 19 points from 2019.

The ACT now leads the nation in the number of loans to non-first home buyers, as well as approvals for multi-units and new multi-units under construction, according to HIA executive director for ACT and south NSW, Greg Weller.

It also took top spot for rates for overseas and interstate migration, jumping from worst in the country to best in just a single quarter. 

HIA executive director for ACT and south NSW, Greg Weller… “The performance in the ACT has been strong for sometime.”

He says interstate travellers may have been enticed by the positive aspects of life and work in the ACT that came to the fore during covid, including a strong jobs market.

The scorecard also showed that the ACT continued to lead the nation in multi-unit approvals having maintained the strongest multi-unit market in the country for all but one quarter since late 2018.

“The performance in the ACT has been strong for sometime. As a matter of public policy, the ACT government has promoted densification and building multi-units. So it’s little surprise that’s what we are seeing,” says Mr Weller. 

But despite all of this improvement, Mr Weller says more can be done, especially in regards to detached housing. 

“A worrying aspect remains the underperformance of detached housing, with approvals in last place, while commencements are fourth last,” says Mr Weller.

“This is no doubt related to the stellar performance of HomeBuilder in other states, but 2020 will also likely reflect the second year running that the monthly average approvals in the territory have fallen below 100, which is something that needs to be addressed.”

While the rates of new homebuyers have been steadily growing and are now stronger than they’ve been in a decade, Mr Weller says the boom other states received from the government’s HomeBuilder scheme hasn’t been felt in Canberra and left it dragging in the rankings. 

Applicants in the ACT have found it more difficult to qualify for the grant given the $750,000 cap and the high cost of house and land packages in newer suburbs, says Mr Weller.

For the other end of the market, Mr Weller says the price of land in the ACT is a barrier for homebuyers. Another is the speed of approvals. 

Mr Weller says the government needs to examine the planning system and how efficient and cost effective it is to buy new homes.

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