Regional Economic Development

More homes and tradies needed to capitalise on Defence investment

THE Housing Industry Association (HIA) is warning that more tradespeople -- and homes -- are needed to effectively back up the recently-announced $6.23 billion Defence expansion programs that will boost economic activity in the Northern Territory.

“The announced $6.23 billion Defence spend in the Northern Territory is a welcome commitment that will bring a number of business and economic opportunities to the NT for the construction industry and broader economy," HIA's NT  executive director, Luis Espinoza said.

“To capitalise on these opportunities the NT Government needs to ensure key policies and investment are made now to address current and future housing shortages and workforce skills gaps," he said. 

“The construction industry is already facing significant skills shortages and there is a demonstrated need for more housing right now and those pressures will only increase with the additional investment. “This emphasises the need for targeting policies across Government to address these key matters. This includes opportunities for red tape reduction, first home building incentives, planning reforms to streamline approvals, apprentice grants and support schemes for training providers to deliver and train the future workforce," Mr Espinoza said. “The coordination of these policies is critical as is working with key industry bodies like HIA, to build the capacity of the construction industry to take full advantage of these opportunities. “Industry bodies, and RTO’s such as HIA are ready, willing and have the capacity to train the future workforce of the NT and to bring more apprentices and workers through the door right now. “The NT Government needs to be working closely with the housing industry to build our skills, homes and industry capacity now to be prepared for what the future 2-5 years demand will bring,” Mr Espinoza said.



First Home Guarantee Scheme helps move people into home ownership affirms HIA

THE National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) released its annual report on Australian Government’s Home Guarantee Scheme and the findings are proof that “first home buyer incentives work and should continue to be supported” according to HIA managing director, Jocelyn Martin.

“The Home Guarantee Scheme is an important incentive making it easier for a first home buyer to raise their deposit more quickly and easily and in turn helping them get into their own home faster,” Ms Martin said. 
“The report found one in three first home buyers in Australia have been able to get into their first home by accessing the scheme. 
“It also found that around 10,860, or more than one third of all guarantees were issued to buyers in regional areas in 2022-23 up from around 7,390 in 2021-22,” Ms Martin said.
“The report also showed an increasing proportion of younger buyers participated in the scheme each year since its inception. More than half of all places under the scheme, in 2022-23, were taken up by people under the age of 30.
“Since its inception, HIA has been a strong supporter of assistance for first home buyers, to help get Australians into their first home and achieve their home ownership aspirations,”  Ms Martin said.


Cost of living continues to squeeze housing supply say Master Builders

THE Australian Bureau of Statistics August Building Approvals and Home Lending data is showing early signs of improvement but is still below the adequate levels required to boost much-needed housing supply, according to Master Builders Australia research.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said the Federal Government “must not take its foot off the accelerator” when it comes to tackling the housing crisis and supporting the building and construction workforce to deliver on targets.

“Builders and tradies have a big job ahead of them to ensure we can build enough homes to start tackling rental inflation and meeting our Housing Accord objectives,” Ms Wawn said. 

“We need to ensure tradies are spending as much time as possible on the tools without unnecessary delays and disruptions.

“The cost of building homes continues to be inflated through unnecessary delays and barriers including planning impediments, lengthy approvals processes and high developer charges.

“Worse still, the Federal Government risks magnifying costs and regulatory obstacles with its far-reaching ‘Closing Loopholes’ Bill.

“The IR Bill means businesses will have even more of their time absorbed by compliance and red tape issues – instead of being out there building new homes.

Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett said August 2023 saw a 7 percent increase in the volume of new home building approvals.

“Both detached houses and higher density home building approvals shared in the expansion up 6.0 and 8.8 percent respectively,” Mr Garrett said.

“However, the volume of new approvals is still considerably lower than this time last year.

“Over the year to August 2022, new home building approvals are still down by 13 percent.

“Detached house approvals have suffered a sharp reversal since their peak during the COVID,” he said.

“The pipeline of higher density home building activity, which is critical to ensuring adequate rental supply, has been weak since even before the pandemic.

“We still need to see a sustained improvement in the volume of higher density home building in order to relieve inflation which is at 15-year highs,” Mr Garrett said.

According to Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn, “The decision by the RBA to hold interest rates for a fourth consecutive month is a welcome reprieve for mortgage holders and renters who are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis.

“The effect of the RBA’s tightening cycle is still flowing through to the sector and dampening investment.

“Master Builders has forecast 2023-24 will see home starts decline by another 2.1 percent to around 170,100, well below the 200,000 needed per year to meet population growth.”


Construction industry applauds Housing Supply Bills finally being passed by Parliament

THE building and construction industry is applauding today's passing of the Housing Supply Bills by the Federal Government, with the support of the Greens and some Independent members through the Senate.

Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said, “The combination of the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF), the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, and Housing Australia embeds housing as a core infrastructure priority for the Federal Government.

“Master Builders thanks the Greens, Senator Jacqui Lambie, Tammy Tyrrell and David Pocock who have come out to support the passing of the HAFF.

“The cooperation seen across all levels of government to prioritise tackling the housing crisis is a relief to many doing it tough. Whether it is social and community housing, rental properties, or owner-occupiers, the common constraint is supply.

“The Housing Australia Future Fund legislation is a vital piece in the housing puzzle by encouraging investment in the social and community housing sector," Ms Wawn said.

“Passing this legislation is imperative to delivering the National Housing Accord target of 1.2 million new, well-located homes in the next five years.

“Master Builders acknowledges the tireless efforts of Minister Collins in ensuring this legislation passes and thanks her for the ongoing collaboration with the industry.

“The government has rightfully not bowed to pressure for harmful rental market interventions that would do nothing to boost housing supply.

“We know the biggest handbrake on housing supply is making it easier for new projects to get the green light by kickstarting private investment and reducing development costs and delays," she said.

“To improve housing affordability across the market, all levels of government must continue to work together to implement continuous land supply through rezoning and planning, and taxes on the development and buying process should be reduced,” Ms Wawn said.

Master Builders is part of the National Affordable Housing Alliance (NAHA)of peak bodies, unions, the superannuation and community housing sectors. This alliance supports the objective of enabling a perpetual pipeline of investments that delivers an annual additional supply of housing that leverages taxpayer and private investment. 

The HAFF starts delivering on this framework with a $10 billion investment to deliver 30,000 new social and affordable dwellings in its first five years. The funding is targeted at areas of greatest need including crisis housing for women and children leaving/experiencing domestic violence, improving housing in indigenous communities, specialist services for veterans and frontline worker accommodation.




HIA says new home sales foreshadow a weak 2024 for home building

SALES OF NEW HOMES across Australia fell by 2.4 percent in July, "continuing to bounce along very low levels" according to Housing Industry Association (HIA) senior economist Tom Devitt.

The HIA New Home Sales report – a monthly survey of the largest volume home builders in the five largest states – is a leading indicator of future detached home construction.

“This month’s decline leaves sales in the three months to July 2023 down by 33.4 percent compared to the same period in 2022,” Mr Devitt said.

“Weak new home sales, together with an elevated number of previous sales being cancelled, reinforce the expectation that Australia will see a decade-low level of home building next year. Even a cut to the cash rate now would not produce a recovery in new house commencements until the second half of 2024.

"Underlying demand for housing continues to be supported by population growth, acute shortages of rental accommodation and strong employment figures," Mr Devitt said. 

“Meeting the appropriate levels of new housing for Australia’s current and future population will require changes to the other policies that inflate construction costs. These are not only interest rates, but also tax settings, land release and planning reforms, and macro-prudential rules that squeeze out owner-occupiers and investors alike.

“The National Cabinet’s recent announcement to increase its five-year housing supply target is a welcome step in the right direction.

“Coordination among all levels of government and the industry will be crucial to achieving this goal,” Mr Devitt said.

Compared to the previous month, sales in July 2023 decreased in most of the large states, led by Queensland (-11.6 percent) and followed by Western Australia (-9.3 percent), New South Wales (-1.6 percent) and Victoria (-0.6 percent). South Australia was the only state to see an increase (+35.5 percent).Similarly, sales in the three months to July 2023 decreased compared with the same period in 2022 across most of the large states. This was led by Queensland (-52.3 percent) and followed by New South Wales (-48.4 percent), Victoria (-37.2 percent) and South Australia (-26.0 percent). Sales in Western Australia on the other hand increased by 17.3 percent.



Federal Government 'must not reverse building approvals uplift' - Master Builders

THE release of the May 2023 building approvals and lending data shows "a welcome uplift" in higher density home building approvals, according to Master Builders Australia chief economist Shane Garrett. However, he has warned of "the need for sustained recovery" and cautioned against "unnecessary government-induced cost pressures".

Mr Garrett said higher density home building approvals jumped by 59.4 percent during May, recording their strongest monthly total since the end of last year.

“However, detached house building approvals remained flat during the month and are about 15 percent down on a year ago," Mr Garrett said.

“May’s sharp increase in unit/apartment building approvals is welcome given the severity of shortages in the rental market. 

“The difficult conditions in the rental market are the result of prolonged underbuilding in the medium/high-density part of the market. This dates from before the pandemic.

“The 12 interest rate increases we have endured so far have made it much more expensive to build new homes. Higher mortgage rates have also forced up the cost of providing homes to the rental market.

“Lending figures provide a good indication of what’s likely to develop on the ground over the coming months.

“The number of loans for the construction of a new home eased slightly during May (-0.2 percent) and a 5.1 percent uplift in the number of loans for the purchase of newly built dwelling. However, loans are still over 40 percent lower than a year ago,” Mr Garrett said.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said while the bounce in higher density building approvals during May was welcome, new home lending data suggested that "tough times still lie ahead".

“We will need to see a sustained recovery in higher density home building volumes before the affordability crisis in our rental market starts to abate," Ms Wawn said.

“Combined with the larger than expected slowdown in inflation last week, today’s figures should give the RBA decent grounds for holding rates tomorrow (Tuesday, July 4).

“Increasing the construction of necessary new homes will contribute to alleviating inflationary pressures throughout the economy," she said.

“While the fight against inflation appears to be favourably shifting, it is crucial not to jeopardise progress by imposing unnecessary cost pressures through government regulation.

“By pumping up costs right across the economy, proposed changes to industrial relations would be very counterproductive in terms of beating inflation and unduly add costs to construction,” Ms Wawn said.



HIA warns supply of new homes set to slow further

"Despite record levels of migration, the number of new homes commencing construction is set to slow for at least the next 12 months,” Housing Industry Association (HIA) chief economist Tim Reardon said this week.

HIA released its economic and industry Outlook report on Frdiday. The report includes updated forecasts for new home building and renovations activity nationally and for each of the eight states and territories.

“There has been a rapid slowdown in the volume of new building projects entering the pipeline, especially new apartments, over the past year,” Mr Reardon said. 

“The sharp increase in the cash rate has compounded the barriers created by extraordinary restrictions on lending and investing, increased construction costs and regulatory costs.

“The rise in the cash rate is the key reason for the slowdown in the number of new homes commencing construction. There are long lags in this cycle and the full impact of the increases to date will not be apparent, until late 2024.

“Leading indicators of home building activity have fallen to exceptionally low levels. New home sales are almost 50 percent lower than a year ago. Lending for the purchase or construction of a new home has fallen to its lowest level since 2008," Mr Reardon said.

“The slowdown in the commencement of new homes is counter to the goal of increasing supply and delivering one million homes over the next five years.

“Beyond the rise in the cash rate, the supply of new homes is also constrained by a range of regulatory and cyclical challenges. The government’s Housing Australia’s Future Fund isn’t a solution to all of these problems, but it is a necessary step toward improving the supply of new homes.

“Removing barriers to investment, reforming local council planning processes and stable economic settings are also necessary steps,” Mr Reardon said.


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