How will stalled population growth impact the property market?

With Australia’s international borders closed for the better part of two years, the Federal Government has revised its population outlook, noting there is likely to be a 1.5 million person shortfall by 2030/31 compared to previous predictions.

In the Population Statement released on Monday, the Centre for Population Growth revealed Covid-19 had seen growth fall to its lowest level in 100 years and the impacts were expected to continue.

That slowed growth is largely due to overseas migration, which has been the main source of Australia’s population growth since WWII.

Now, for the first time since the 1940s, Australia is predicted to experience a net outflow of overseas migrants.

As a result, population growth is forecast to remain low at 0.3 per cent in 2021/22 and be 1.5 million people fewer than what was predicted prior to the pandemic by 2031/32.

Property Council of Australia Chief Executive, Ken Morrison said the shortfall would likely have an impact on property construction moving forward.

“There is no doubt the property sector is set and ready for a strong rebound, but without migration-led population growth, the sector – which employs more people than any other – just won’t have the skilled workers required to deliver the projects that are ready to roll out,” Mr Morrison said.

“While noting the uncertainty around Omicron, it’s pleasing to see that Australia’s high vaccination rates and re-opening of borders has meant net overseas migration is expected to recover earlier than first predicted, but we need to catch up as fast as we can.”

Eview Group Director, Manos Findikakis agreed this slowed growth may result in some bumps along the way, but said even without migration from overseas, Australia’s property market continued to show signs of strength.

“I don’t think anyone would have thought that we would be exactly at a 180-degree point to where we all thought we would be with the onset of Covid-19 almost two years ago,” he said

“At the time, there was talk and predictions of an economic cliff with the market taking a possible 30 per cent fall. Fast forward to today, instead of a cliff we have experienced extraordinary gains in property values of 20 per cent and more. That’s without any immigration.”

Mr Findikakis said it was only be a matter of time before international border restrictions lifted, even with the current threat of the Omicron COVID strain.

“Noting immigration and what the current challenges pose, I am optimistic and confident that the property market will remain strong.

“Possibly not as heated, but because of COVID and the impact it has had in our lives, Australians have had a renewed and reaffirmed love affair with property, and because of that, we will see more homeowners move more frequently, from city, to coast to country.

“Despite the economic forecasts, this forced lifestyle change of COVID restrictions that we have all experienced has changed the way we think about work, our commutes, our lifestyle locations, and our homes.

“Everyday homeowners have had incredible equity growth in their homes; many will seek to release that equity and that will continue to spur the property market.

“There may be some more bumps along the way, but I still forecast that we will look back on this decade as our centuries roaring ’20s!” 

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Cassandra Charlesworth

Cassandra Charlesworth is a features writer for Elite Agent Magazine with over 15 years’ journalism experience in metropolitan and regional newsrooms. She has a specialist interest in real estate, tech disruption and a good old-fashioned “yarn”.