IT COULD be a bad year for housing prices if building approvals are anything to go by. With the housing market teetering on the edge of a serious downturn, apartment developers seem to be having a “last blast”.
Building approvals data released last week shows a serious uptick in the number of homes that were approved. November building approvals were up 0.9 per cent compared to October, and are 8.1 per cent higher than November 2016. The source of the lift is mainly apartments, which rose from already high levels.
The timing of this big push is fascinating because November is exactly when Australian capital city housing prices started falling. Corelogic shows prices fell by 0.1 per cent in that month as Sydney took a sharp downturn. The developers didn’t know in advance that was going to happen, but they might have sensed it. After all, what could drive such a big uptick in building approvals is the sense that it is now or never.
Builders who have just got their approvals will be racing to get their apartment blocks and new developments done before everyone else. Those who finish early can hope to get in before prices really slump. Any who have delays will be worried they’ll end up selling into a soggy, lifeless market.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Markets are supposed to co-ordinate supply and demand. But that’s a hard job when supply takes a long time to come online. If you’re halfway through building a big development when the market falls by 10 per cent, you’re in a bind. The losses involved in finishing the properties and selling them for less than they cost to build will almost certainly be smaller than the losses involved in abandoning the project, so you have to push on to get at least some money back. This is the essence of the boom and bust cycle that characterises property.
Some very large developers might finish properties and then sit on them, hoping the market improves over time, but that’s also a risk. Markets can take a very long time to recover.
SOUTH OF THE MURRAY
The really interesting thing about the November building approvals data is where it was focused. All the increase was focused on Victoria. The average number of building approvals in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia was actually lower than in the previous month, by 2 to 3 per cent. But Victoria saw a whopping 27 per cent rise.
That anomaly becomes especially curious when you consider that Victoria was the market that actually went on to see price appreciation in November (0.5 per cent growth in prices, according to Corelogic). Could it be that developers, sensing Victoria is the only market with price growth left in it, are focusing their attentions there?
Another explanation for such a massive jump would be if a single large project came through the pipeline in the month of November. A giant apartment development somewhere in Melbourne, for example. For now, it’s not clear if that’s the case. Whether it is one project or many, the impact on housing markets of a big rush of supply is largely the same – extra supply generally makes prices lower than they would otherwise be.
QUIT WHILE YOU’RE WINNING
Some smart developers have already got out of the property development game, telling the financial press they are sitting out until the market repairs itself. The so-called “pipeline” of new building had been shrinking. The November building approval data shows a different picture. It suggests the pipeline might get fatter again for a little while and there could be one more flurry of cranes going up. The one caveat is this – builders can pay to get a building approval and then not use it. That might be the best case scenario.
The big question hanging over Australia’s high housing prices is whether a housing downturn can happen without also crashing the economy. A gentle and controlled downturn might be a positive – young people can afford to get into the market more, but people don’t feel like the sky is falling.
But a severe sharp downturn could be different. A giant backlog of supply that could be released into an already weakened market is a concern because it could accelerate a modest slide into a hard one.
Over the last 10 years, Brisbane has suffered the GFC and floods. As a result, prices are now extremely affordable for a capital city. The Brisbane market has some of the best growth prospects nationwide, so let’s explore why this market is set to take the gold medal for capital growth.
Since the GFC, net migration levels have been very poor for Queensland. However, net interstate migration to Queensland has tripled over the last three years. Interstate migration to Queensland fell to a low of 5,753 in 2014, increasing to 11,581 in 2016 and 15,716 in 2017.
The majority of these people are moving from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. This increase in migration levels is due to housing affordability compared to other states, improving employment markets and the lifestyle factors that come with those two factors.
There is a surge of major development and infrastructure projects currently underway in Brisbane, to the sum of $12 billion.
Examples of these major projects are:
Queens Wharf ($3 billion) – Comprising of 1,000 hotel rooms across five hotels, a residential precinct of 2,000 units, a 100-metre sky deck, 50 bars and restaurants and a pedestrian bridge connection to Southbank. This will completely reshape the Brisbane’s river CBD precinct.
Cross River Rail ($5.4 billion) – The project will deliver a 10.2-kilometre rail link from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, with 5.9 kilometres of tunnel under the Brisbane River and CBD, connecting to both northern and southern rail networks in and out of the CBD.
Brisbane Quarter ($1 billion) – This project is a mixed-use precinct incorporating office, retail, hotel and residential uses.
Brisbane Live ($2 billion) – A new entertainment precinct located on top of the Roma Street rail interchange hub. Facilities include a $450 million, 17,000-seat arena along with multiplex cinemas, an amphitheatre and proposed commercial, residential and hotel towers.
Last year was one of the strongest years for job growth in Brisbane’s history. In the last 12 months, Brisbane’s jobs growth has increased by 7.6 per cent. As a result, unemployment has fallen across the board to 5.5 per cent.
Recent jobs growth has been driven by Queensland’s service industries. While the resources sector has cut 22,000 jobs over the past two years, four other industries each created more jobs than were lost in the resource sector over that period: health, education, professional services and accommodation and food services (which is closely related to tourism).
The median dwelling across Brisbane cost 6.3 times higher than the median household income. As a comparison, Sydneywas ranked the second worst most unaffordable market in the world. House prices are a whopping 13 times higher than the median household income.
These factors are significant for Brisbane’s capital growth prospects over the coming years. Well-located houses (not units) are expected to be some of the best preforming sub-markets in Australian real estate.
The state government’s planned property tax increases risk wiping the state off the global investment map, warns Chris Mountford,
executive director of Property Council Queensland.Kevin Farmer
THE state government’s planned property tax increases, due to come into effect on July 1, risk wiping the state off the global investment map.
As the government begins work on the State Budget, the Property Council is ramping up efforts to highlight the hidden effects of the tax hikes.
These tax hikes will increase the cost of doing business, damage Queensland’s economic competitiveness and impact on every Queenslander.
With Queensland preparing to leverage the Commonwealth Games to attract new investment opportunities, these tax increases couldn’t come at a worse time.
Election campaign costings, released in the days prior to the November 2017 state election, revealed the government’s intention to introduce new land tax thresholds for aggregated land holdings with an unimproved value above $10 million.
Individuals, companies and trusts who are within this new threshold will be subjected to a 25% increase in the rate of land tax from July 1.
The government has also committed to increasing the stamp duty surcharge on foreign buyers of residential property from 3% to 7%.
The end result of this decision will be higher business rents, higher costs for new homes and damage to Queensland’s reputation as an investment destination.
Businesses who lease premises from larger landlords can expect additional rental and occupancy costs.
New homebuyers can expect an additional $800-$1000 added to the cost of purchasing a new home.
We once were able to lure investment from interstate and overseas with attractive tax rates, but we now find ourselves uncompetitive with our southern neighbours.
The Property Council is calling for the government to abandon the tax increases and commit to review and modernise Queensland’s property tax framework.
Our current land tax thresholds haven’t been changed in a decade, leading to significant bracket creep as property values have increased dramatically.
We need a simpler, fairer and more attractive property tax system to unlock investment and create jobs.
An all-encompassing review of Queensland’s outdated thresholds and property tax rates needs to be undertaken to put Queensland back on the investment map.
Chris Mountford is executive director of Property Council Queensland.
Interstate migration to the Sunshine Coast is tipped to help drive up property prices. Picture: Lachie Millard
INTERSTATE migration is once again driving up demand for Sunshine Coast property.
New analysis of the market by RiskWise Property Research predicts solid capital growth for the region as a result.
RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg said the area had experienced “consistently strong population growth’’ in the past five years and predictions were that this would continue.
The Sunshine Coast market has been widely tipped by real estate analysts to experience a lift in prices, after a series of lean years.
The high-end Noosa market in particular has fired up again with a series of record breaking beachfront sales, but it was also the affordability of many of the Sunshine Coast suburbs that Mr Peleg said was helping attract new residents.
“The area’s affordability has been a major drawcard behind this migration, especially for large numbers of interstate purchasers who can’t afford to buy such great lifestyle properties in places like Sydney and Melbourne,” he said.
Also helping drive demand and future capital growth, according to Mr Peleg was the low number of building approvals in the region.
21-23 Webb Rd, Sunshine Beach was listed for a massive $22 Million. Picture: Paul Smith
He said there were only 3323 house building approvals in the pipeline across the entire region and that would be quickly absorbed.
There are also approvals for 2581 new units to be added in the two years.
Mr Peleg said there had already been 7.1 per cent median house price growth for houses on the Sunshine Coast and 5.4 per cent median unit price growth in the past 12 months.