ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR HOUSING INDUSTRY

ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR HOUSING INDUSTRY

EXPERTS in the housing industry are optimistic about trends in the Queensland housing market which show construction and purchase of new homes is up by 7 per cent, despite tighter bank lending requirements.

This increase is for the third month in a row according to ABS figures for April 2013, with the total number of owner-occupied dwelling commitments rising by 1.3 per cent in April (seasonally adjusted), following on from rises of 1.9 per cent in March and 3.8 per cent in February.

Master Builders Queensland director of housing policy, Paul Bidwell (pictured) says the trends are encouraging in an uncertain economic climate.

“It is reassuring to see that the number of finance commitments for the construction and purchase of new homes is up around 7 per cent for the month,” says Bidwell.

“This is 2.2 per cent up from where we were in April 2012, and the general trend in the finance commitment figures remains positive.”

Data for building approval activity shows that for April 2013, skewing appeared in regions where there was a concentration of resources activity.

“Mackay, Central Qld, Darling Downs and West Qld regions have done a lot better than Northern Qld, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast,” Bidwell says.

Bidwell says the figures signal Queensland housing recovery.

“It is a strong signal of building activity in the coming months, with the figures confirming our view of a gradual upturn in residential building,” he says.

He adds that while the figures are encouraging, the housing sector as a whole is only showing tenuous signs of recovery.

“A lack of consumer confidence and tighter lending requirements have meant that unfortunately, the proportion of first home buyers still remains well below the long term average at 10.3 per cent, compared to 18 per cent.”

The Federal Government’s responsible lending laws, which came into practice post GFC, require for lending institutions to be stricter about loan approvals.

“Lending institutions now have a different risk appetite in response to the credit crunch – banks have changed the Loan Value Ratio (LVR), winding back on an individual’s loan capacity,” Bidwell says.

“The deposit requirement has also changed - previously you could use the first home buyers grant as part of the deposit, and now you can't use the $15,000 Great Start Grant as part of the deposit,” he says.

“It is also fair to say the Queensland Government’s Great Start Grant has yet to make any significant difference to the number of people building a first home."

“We don’t think it will ever be the same as it was before the GFC, neither do we think it should be. What we can see is that even though financing is easing up there is still existing constraints on new housing development,” Bidwell says.

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