Home Renovations: Australia’s Next Building Boom?

The latest edition of the HIA Renovations Roundup report predicts that home renovations will become an increasingly important part of the residential building industry over the next few years.

According to the March 2017 edition of the HIA Renovations Roundup report, renovations activity grew by 2.7 per cent in 2016 to $33.06 billion. The pace of growth is projected to slow to just 0.3 per cent in 2017, before reaching 3.2 per cent in 2018. Further growth in 2019 (+2.4 per cent) and 2020 (+2.5 per cent) is expected to bring the value of home renovations activity in Australia to $35.94 billion.

“2016 marked the strongest year since WWII for new home building starts in Australia but our forecasts indicate that activity is set to decline on this front over the next three years,” commented HIA Senior Economist, Shane Garrett.

“In this context, our industry will become more dependent on work related to home renovations activity. Many are surprised to learn that renovations currently account for about one third of all residential building work. By the end of the decade, renovations activity is likely to represent some 42 per cent of all residential building activity.”

“Detached house building in Australia reached very high levels between 1985 and 1995. This large stock of homes is becoming increasingly ripe for major renovations work. Added to the mix are remarkably low interest rates and the big home equity windfalls in Sydney and Melbourne – pretty ideal conditions for renovations demand.”

“At the moment, the one key difficulty for the renovations market is the fact that turnover in the established house market is falling. This is an important driver of demand, and prospects for renovations growth would be even stronger if transactions on this side of the market started to increase again,” concluded Shane Garrett.

We would make the point that with incomes static, and mortgage rates on the rise, household incomes will be under more pressure. As a result some may choose not to move but renovate, but will they have the means to pay for it?

ABS Confirms Property Price Rises

From The HIA.

ABS data released today confirms acceleration in the rate of growth in residential property prices in late 2016, said the Housing Industry Association.

In the year to the December 2016 quarter, dwelling price growth remained fastest in Melbourne (+10.8 per cent), followed by Sydney (+10.3 per cent). Dwelling prices also grew over the year to the December 2016 quarter in: Tasmania (+8.8 per cent); the Australian Capital Territory (+5.5 per cent); and Queensland (+3.8 per cent). Dwelling prices continued to decline in Western Australia (-4.1 per cent) and the Northern Territory (-7.0 per cent).

“This result for the December 2016 quarter shouldn’t surprise anybody. Nor should the large divergence in growth rates between Australia’s eight capital cities,” said HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale.

“The growth rate for attached dwelling prices is far slower than for existing houses, while Sydney and Melbourne price growth is way of ahead of other markets,” noted Harley Dale. “Sydney and Melbourne represent 40 percent of Australia’s population and some concern regarding the trajectory of house price growth in these two markets is warranted. Elsewhere, people still scratch their heads when it comes to a supposed housing price ‘boom’ because that simply hasn’t been their experience this cycle, even allowing for some recovery in prices in recent times.

“On the same day as we have received an update on dwelling prices there has also been speculation regarding some tension between members of Australia’s Council of Regulators, plus an (appropriate) questioning of banks’ out of cycle interest rate hikes.”

“People can make of that what they will, but let’s not lose sight of the main goal. Yes, there is some need to tighten lending conditions for some Australian housing markets in terms of geographical areas and dwelling types,” concluded Harley Dale. “However, a blanket tightening of lending conditions – as now seems to be emerging again – is the wrong policy and risks damaging Australia’s financial stability. That is the very opposite to the ideal outcome authorities want to achieve.”

New Home Lending falls back in January

Figures released today by the ABS indicate that the volume of loans for new homes eased back during January, said the Housing Industry Association.

During January 2017, the total number of owner occupier loans for the purchase or construction of new homes fell by 1.0 per cent and was 0.4 per cent lower than a year earlier. The volume of loans for new home purchase declined by 0.3 per cent during January with lending for the construction of new dwellings dipping by 1.4 per cent.

In January 2017 the number of loans to owner occupiers constructing or purchasing new homes increased in three states. Compared with January of last year, the volume of loans rose most strongly in Queensland (+13.1 per cent), followed by South Australia (+9.2 per cent) and Victoria (+8.8 per cent). The largest reduction occurred in Western Australia (-9.3 per cent), followed by Tasmania (-3.5 per cent) and New South Wales (-1.2 per cent). The volume of lending rose by 22.1 per cent in the ACT but was down by 54.8 per cent in the Northern Territory over the same period.

“Despite the reduction during January, the actual volume of loans for new homes remains at a very elevated level – about 99,620 loans were made over the year to January 2017,” noted HIA Senior Economist Shane Garrett.

“There are two dynamics going on with respect to new home loans. With 2016 representing the strongest year for new dwelling starts since the end of WWII, a huge number of new homes are now becoming available for purchase making lending volumes in this area accordingly high. However, the number of loans to people constructing their own home has actually been falling back since mid-2014 and this trend has affected overall lending activity,” Shane Garrett concluded.

Dwelling approvals continue to fall in January

The number of dwellings approved fell 2.1 per cent in January 2017, in trend terms, and has fallen for eight months, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Here is the data charted by the HIA. They say “new dwelling approvals have been falling back over the past year, particularly due to a reduced inflow of new multi-unit projects”.

In trend terms, dwelling approvals decreased in January in the Australian Capital Territory (19.4 per cent), Queensland (6.8 per cent), New South Wales (4.8 per cent), Northern Territory (1.7 per cent) and Western Australia (0.3 per cent). Dwelling approvals increased, in trend terms, in Tasmania (3.0 per cent), Victoria (2.9 per cent) and South Australia (1.1 per cent).

In trend terms, approvals for private sector houses fell 1.2 per cent in January. Private sector house approvals fell in New South Wales (2.2 per cent), South Australia (1.4 per cent), Western Australia (1.4 per cent), Queensland (1.0 per cent) and Victoria (0.3 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms, dwelling approvals increased by 1.8 per cent in January, driven by a rise in total dwellings excluding houses (6.6 per cent). Total house approvals fell 2.2 per cent

The value of total building approved fell 2.9 per cent in January, in trend terms, and has fallen for six months. The value of residential building fell 0.9 per cent while non-residential building fell 6.8 per cent.

Future Housing Starts Lower

According to the Housing Industry Association, during the year ended September 2016, there were over 229,000 dwellings that commenced construction. While this is still an exceptionally high level of activity based on historical experience, the annualised level of commencements has eased since peaking at over 231,000 in the year ending in the March 2016 quarter. This is supportive of HIA’s view that the current new residential building cycle is likely to have peaked in 2016.

Detached houses

Despite the decline in the total number of commencements, the detached house segment of the market has proven resilient.

There were 29,634 detached houses commenced during the September 2016 quarter, which makes a total of 115,953 commencements in the year up to this point.

The prevailing dynamics in the detached house market during 2015/16 were a marked contraction in the level of activity in Western Australia counter balancing the ongoing resurgence in the Victorian and New South Wales markets. While there were variations in other state and territory markets, when we take a national perspective these two factors eclipsed the rest. However, we are now well into 2016/17 and approaching a new phase of the cycle which will have a fresh dynamic. The headwinds afflicting WA may soon subside and Sydney and Melbourne’s time in the sun may be drawing to a close.

From a national perspective, detached house commencements are forecast to ease by 1.7 per cent in 2016/17 ahead of a further decline of 7.3 per cent in 2017/18. After falling to a low of 104,800 starts in the 2018/19 year, the level of detached house building is forecast to gradually improve across the out years of the forecast horizon.

Multi-unit dwellings

The ‘multi-unit’ market has weakened overall. After a very strong result in the March 2016 quarter, the number of multi-unit commencements fell away quite sharply throughout the middle of the year.

However, there are markedly different trajectories for the semi-detached market (including townhouses, row and terrace type dwellings) and the market for apartments in buildings of four or more storeys.

The number of commencements for semi-detached dwellings continued to grow throughout the year. In contrast, the number of commencements for apartments in high-rise developments slowed as activity in Victoria and Queensland eased. The flow of new apartment projects getting underway in New South Wales has remained more buoyant and there is a record level of apartments in developments awaiting commencement.

In aggregate, there were a total of 25,202 multi-unit dwellings commenced in the September 2016 quarter, which is equivalent to 113,383 across the full year. HIA is forecasting that multi-unit dwelling commencements will remain at quite a high level in the 2016/17 financial year, albeit with an annual decline of 11.3 per cent. Looking beyond 2016/17 is when we anticipate commencements will post more significant declines. Multi-unit commencements are forecast to decline by around 25 per cent in 2017/18, and then by a further 12 per cent in 2018/19. The 2018/19 year is projected to be the low point of the cycle for multi-unit commencements, when 68,400 starts are forecast to occur.


A Softer New Year for New Home Sales

The first key new housing update for 2017 provides a softer update, said the Housing Industry Association.

The January 2017 update for the HIA’s monthly New Home Sales survey reveals a decline of 1.5 per cent in detached house sales following a similar fall of 1.6 per cent in December last year. Detached house sales fell by a very modest 1.1 per cent over the three months to January 2017 to be down by 4.0 per cent when compared to the same period 12 months previously. The sale of ‘multi-units’ dropped by 4.3 per cent in January following an increase of 6.4 per cent in December 2016. Over the three months to January 2017 multi-unit sales increased by 4.8 per cent to a level 9.0 per cent higher than the comparable period a year earlier.

Seasonally adjusted new detached house sales increased by 12.1 per cent in Western Australia in January 2017 following a sharp dip of 9.1 per cent last December. In the month of January 2017 detached house sales fell by 6.8 per cent in New South Wales, 4.1 per cent in Victoria, 2.0 per cent in Queensland, and 1.4 per cent in South Australia.

“The HIA New Homes Sales Report – a survey of Australia’s largest home builders showed a moderate decline of 2.2 per cent in January 2017,” said HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale. “This weaker update does follow a relatively decent run home for new home sales in late 2016.”

“Given that Australia is tailing off from the largest and longest new home building cycle in history, both the total and sub-component profiles for new home sales are still in very good shape,” said Harley Dale.

“There aren’t many sectors punching above their weight in the nation’s economy right now, so the profile for new home sales is also good news for Australia as a whole.”

“HIA’s latest forecasts for new dwelling commencements will be released on Thursday and they will paint a healthy short term picture for residential construction. There is nothing to be seen in this latest update for new home sales or from any other recent leading indicator results to deter us from this outlook,” concluded Harley Dale.


Land Sales Recover, as prices rise

Residential land sales increased for the second consecutive quarter as prices reached a new high during the three months to September 2016 according to the latest HIA-CoreLogic Residential Land Report published today by Housing Industry Association and CoreLogic.

Today’s HIA-CoreLogic Residential Land Report shows that the land lot price nationally rose by 3.3 per cent during the September 2016 quarter to another record high of $243,585. During the quarter, 18,510 land lot transactions are estimated to have occurred across Australia, 6.4 per cent higher than the previous quarter but 7.3 per cent lower than a year earlier. During the six months to September 2016, land transactions experienced the largest increase in Perth (+5.5 per cent) compared with the same period year earlier. Land turnover also increased in Hobart (+2.1 per cent) over the same period. Land sales saw the largest reduction in Sydney (-29.9 per cent) over the same period. Turnover also fell back in Melbourne (-13.5 per cent), Adelaide (-5.1 per cent) and Brisbane (-3.3 per cent).

“During the September 2016 quarter, the volume of land sales increased by 1,121 lots compared with the June 2016 quarter,” said HIA Senior Economist, Shane Garrett.

“However, the number and size of government taxes, fees, levies and charges on new residential land needed to accommodate our growing population continues to weigh down on our national housing affordability challenges,” explained Shane Garrett.

“In addition to removing the excessive taxes on new land, long term commitment from all levels government in the areas of planning, land release and infrastructure funding is necessary.”

“Price pressures in the residential land market are greatest in the capital cities, with Sydney prices now approaching $1,000 per square metre,” concluded Shane Garrett.

According to CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless, “with median land prices rising consistently since mid-2013 it is clear that one of the primary drivers of broader housing market growth has been the underlying appreciation of land values, which is pushing the overall value of housing higher. The median dollar value per square metre of vacant land was recorded at $927 in Sydney, which is 32 per cent higher than the next most expensive capital city, which is Perth where the rate per square metre is $701. The high land costs are a significant contributor to the unaffordability of housing across Australia’s largest capital city.”

“With housing affordability one of the most topical housing market issues, the underlying drivers of high land costs need further scrutiny. Government policies around land release and headworks costs are central to the debate around housing affordability and the cost of vacant land,” continued Tim Lawless.

“The trend towards a larger number of land sales over the September and June quarters of last year is very welcome, however land sales remain more than 7 per cent lower than their previous 2015 peak. With capital city transactions rising by almost 10 per cent over the September quarter compared with a 1.1 per cent rise across the combined regional markets, it is clear that demand for vacant land is most concentrated across the capital city markets where economic conditions are generally stronger,” concluded Tim Lawless.

New Home Sales Grew In December – HIA

The HIA New Homes Sales Report – a survey of Australia’s largest home builders – highlights a relatively healthy end to 2016, said the Housing Industry Association.

New detached house sales fell by 2.3 per cent in the December 2016 quarter, while the sale of multi-units grew by 3.2 per cent.

The December update for the HIA’s monthly New Home Sales survey shows growth of 0.2 per cent in total seasonally adjusted new home sales in December 2016. This result follows faster growth of 6.1 per cent in November. Multi-unit sales increased by 6.4 per cent in December 2016. Detached house sales fell by 1.6 per cent, within which there was strong gains for New South Wales and Victoria.

Seasonally adjusted new detached house sales increased in two out of five mainland states in December 2016, compared to four out of five states in November. Detached house sales increased in the month of December by 2.4 per cent in New South Wales and by 5.8 per cent in Victoria. The monthly fall in detached house sales was 9.1 per cent in Queensland, 1.9 per cent in South Australia, and 9.0 per cent in Western Australia.

“New home sales hit a two year low in October last year, but recovered well in November and December,” said HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale. “The late 2016 results were strong for the sales of ‘multi-units’, while detached house sales remained in reasonable shape.”

“The strong finish to 2016 for new home sales admittedly follows a very weak month in October,” said Harley Dale. “Obviously it is better that new home sales bounced back rather than kept falling!”

“The overall profile for both HIA New Home Sales and ABS Building Approvals is consistent with the first stage of the down cycle in new home commencements being a mild one. We expect this down cycle to begin in 2017.”

“As has been the case all cycle, new home sales (and building approvals) highlights the large differences in new home building conditions between the five mainland states,” concluded Harley Dale.

Building Approvals Past Peak – HIA

The December 2016 update for ABS Building Approvals confirms we are well passed the peak for the cycle, said the Housing Industry Association.

In December 2016 total seasonally adjusted building approvals fell by 1.2 per cent with detached houses down by 2.2 per cent and ‘other dwellings’ sitting flat at +0.1 per cent. On a three month annualised basis total approvals remain above the 200,000 threshold at 204,692.

In December 2016, seasonally-adjusted building approvals increased by 19.5 per cent in Tasmania and 17.0 per cent in Victoria, while in trend terms there was an increase of 1.2 per cent in the Northern Territory. Building approvals fell in Western Australia (-16.3 per cent), New South Wales (-13.2 per cent), South Australia (-5.4 per cent), and Queensland (-0.1 per cent). In trend terms approvals fell by 2.1 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory.

“While a downward trend in building approvals is firmly entrenched, residential construction activity itself will hold up well throughout 2016/17,” said HIA Chief Economist, Dr Harley Dale. “From 2017/18 we will see a sharper decline in new home building activity, primarily due to the medium/high density segment of the market.”

“Building approvals peaked in July 2016, but by December last year were only 18 per cent lower than that peak. Given approvals reached an all-time high last year that’s a modest fall – we can take that away and bank it as a good outcome for the Australian economy.”

“This has been an extraordinary cycle for new home building – the biggest and longest in history. A long tail to the cycle will be helpful for the Australian economy.”

“It is important to focus in 2017 on ensuring Australia has the correct longer term policy settings to ensure we adequately house our growing and ageing population. The recent appointment of Michael Sukkar as Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, with a focus on housing affordability allows the Federal Government to lead from the front in meeting this crucial national objective.”

Housing Affordability Takes Another Dive

The latest Housing Industry Association (HIA) Affordability Report shows how further gains in dwelling prices have caused housing affordability to deteriorate sharply during the December 2016 quarter.

Affordability worsened in six of the eight capital cities during the December 2016 quarter. The biggest deterioration was in Melbourne (-11.6 per cent), followed by Canberra (-10.7 per cent) and Sydney (-7.3 per cent). Affordability has also become more difficult in Darwin (-3.8 per cent), Brisbane (-2.9 per cent) and Adelaide (-2.3 per cent) during the December 2016 quarter. Only Perth (+2.1 per cent) and Hobart (+1.2 per cent) saw affordability improve during the quarter.

Based on the HIA Affordability Index scores for December 2016, affordability conditions are the most challenging in Sydney (54.7), followed by Melbourne (66.0), Canberra (76.6), Brisbane (85.3) and Darwin (85.3). By some margin, Hobart (117.8) is the most affordable capital city. Perth (96.6) is the second most affordable capital, followed by Adelaide (93.0).

“During the December 2016 quarter, housing affordability across Australia worsened by some 7.3 per cent due to the recent uplift in dwelling prices,” explained HIA Senior Economist, Shane Garrett.

“However, Perth experienced a further improvement in affordability and today’s report also shows how home purchase remains particularly accessible in markets like Tasmania, regional South Australia, regional Western Australia and regional parts of the Northern Territory,” added Shane Garrett.

“Nationally, housing affordability has managed to move in the wrong direction in many major cities despite the fact that interest rates are at very low levels. The sluggish pace of earnings growth in the economy has been an impediment to better affordability,” Shane Garrett pointed out.

“Achieving sustained improvements in affordability requires stepping back and looking at the big picture.

Housing affordability is front and centre in everyone’s mind once more. Whilst there is no single solution, there are some key policy levers that governments could use to provide some relief,” concluded Shane Garrett.