Elite AgentOPINION

Nerida Conisbee: housing construction not keeping up with population growth

Australia’s population growth increased by 290,000 people in the 12 months to June 2022 and this rate of increase is expected to continue this year.

While this increase is good news for sectors experiencing employment shortages and for our economy, it comes at a time when the number of houses being built is starting to fall.

A construction crisis and a fall in housing approvals is starting to show up in home completions.

In some parts of Australia, a lack of housing is showing up in skyrocketing rents and house prices that remain high despite the sharp rise in interest rates. 

The challenge is most acute in Queensland.

Population growth in the state didn’t really slow down in the pandemic.

Even though international migration was negative during this time, interstate migration ramped up.

Even though this level of interstate migration has slowed, international migration has more than matched it.

Queensland’s population growth accounted for more than one-third of Australia’s growth in the 12 months to June 2022.

At the same time, advertised rents in Queensland have increased $80 per week over the past 12 months.

House prices are now increasing again in Brisbane and have been doing so since last November, even though interest rates are yet to peak.

Queensland has a housing shortage that is worsening, a situation that is also increasingly the case in other states. 

This week, the impact of rising construction costs showed up in the value of homes being constructed.

Even though the cost of construction has increased 20 per cent over the past 12 months, the value of housing construction completion fell marginally across Australia.

In Queensland, it fell almost six per cent. Tasmania, which has had a housing shortage for a long time, saw a decline of 18.8 per cent.

The only states to record an increase were NSW and WA. 

The solution is to get more homes built.

Construction costs will start to moderate this year but higher finance costs mean the appetite to invest in new housing is very low.

Policies that encourage more housing investors would be the most effective short-term solution to solving the housing shortage

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Nerida Conisbee

Nerida Conisbee is the Chief Economist at Ray White.