An interstate migrant boom not seen since the early 2000s is expected when Queensland borders reopen but property experts say the newly re-elected state government must work hard to keep its newest residents.
“The fundamentals for housing are population growth, jobs and infrastructure. If you get those things humming, housing is good,” Master Builders Queensland deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said.
When Queenslanders voted at the state election on Saturday, the state’s annual population growth was the second highest in the country, up 1.67 per cent according to a new report into Queensland’s economic performance by leading Australian online broker CommSec.
The state’s jobs report card was less impressive, with the unemployment rate 26.3 per cent higher than the decade average for Queensland.
Construction spending contracted in the June quarter and dwelling commencements dropped 17.5 per cent on the decade average with work on 7714 dwellings reported in the June quarter.
“Queensland’s economy is always at its strongest when the population is growing strongly,” Property Council of Australia Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said.
Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive officer Antonia Mercorella says Queensland is preparing for an influx of Sydneysiders and Melburnians once border restrictions are lifted with the ability to work from home making it easier to enjoy the benefits of Queensland’s liveability while keeping capital city jobs.
“As a result, regional markets along the eastern coastline including the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast have experienced a significant uplift in transaction activity and house price growth over the last few months,” Ms Mercorella said.
“Interstate demand continues to strengthen in Queensland, and we anticipate this demand to surge in the coming year ahead as we navigate through to the other side of this pandemic.”
Mr Bidwell said the state government needed to be alert to the opportunity and the challenge of this expected boom.
“We need to make sure that land supply is out there, so there is the possibility to build a home, and planning systems in place to keep up with that growth.”
First-home buyers and new home builders have been the target of a mass of federal and state government financial stimulus to encourage them to buy homes and keep the economy going during border closures and tight COVID-19 restrictions. This has lead to the fast-tracking of land releases in South East Queensland’s growth corridors of Moreton Bay, Ipswich, Redlands and the Gold Coast.
Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland chief executive officer Kirsty Chessher-Brown sees a shortage of land in Queensland’s future unless the re-elected State Government moves to unlock land for further development.
“We are seeing significant land supply issues across the region, with constraints on land supply parcels. With the HomeBuilder grant there’s been an acceleration of that stock to market, and that will leave us with a shortage of land in a few years time,” Ms Chessher-Brown said.
The Property Council welcomed the $200m building acceleration fund announced before the election to make loans available to developers to build trunk infrastructure like sewer lines, roads and stormwater drains around new land releases.
But with land in ‘very short supply’ in markets on the Gold Coast and parts of the Sunshine Coast, the council is calling for a new South East Queensland regional plan over this term of government to address land shortages and housing diversity in urban areas, including the more affordable ‘missing middle’ stock of townhouses and duplexes.
“Housing diversity and choice right across the state is really important, especially with an ageing population,” Mr Mountford said.
“The planning system should never be static. It should evolve with that changing population.
“That’s not to say we shouldn’t be protecting heritage and character homes but where it’s desirable we should consider other housing alternatives.”
The LNP went to the election with a pledge to reduce land tax by 75 per cent, aimed at stimulating the build-to-rent scheme where developers work with one client to build an apartment of affordable homes for key workers to rent.
With a significant drop-off in new residential project launches in the inner city for next year, all stakeholders are keen to work with Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor government on a revision of stamp duty and land tax to better support the return of investors, affordable housing and the rental market, and also stimulating jobs in the construction sector which is Queensland’s third largest employer.
Over the coming year Queensland Master Builders is also keen to discuss proposed changes to the national building code around sustainability and accessible housing features, including mandating stronger energy efficiency ratings and alterations such as wider hallways and pre-shower steps to encourage homeowners to be able to age in place.
Mr Bidwell said such mandated requirements would add to the cost of a building project and potentially encourage buyers to settle for an established home rather than committing to a new build.
“Queensland has an ability to go its own road if they choose to, it’s entirely up to the government and if they don’t and this comes in in the next 12 months, it will have an impact and cost more to build a house and that will have an impact on the construction industry,” Mr Bidwell said.
Despite political divisions between local, state and federal governments, the property industry is keen to see all three tiers of government work together in the coming year to invest in regional Queensland as a collective through the South East Queensland City Deal which would focus on initiatives like the Fast Rail Network between Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine coasts and Toowoomba.
“If you go back pre-pandemic, some really great building blocks were coming into place for Queensland, Brisbane Metro, Cross River Rail, the Brisbane Cruise Terminal, the airport duplication, Queens Wharf, Howard Smith Wharves,” Mr Mountford said.
“Clearly the pandemic has created challenges but there’s still really good long term building blocks for the city and we need the SEQ city deal to agree to a set of priorities for the region and collectively put their investment into these priorities to drive an alignment between the three tiers of government now more than ever. We’ve gone through three years where we haven't had that alignment.
“It’s a commitment that’s sitting there and we expect some movement on this in the first half of the next calendar year.
“People are re-evaluating where they live and how they want to live, whether that’s in Victoria or Queensland or in the outer suburbs or regions,” Mr Mountford said.
“They will find their balance over time. So the only important thing for this government is to be responsive to that and nimble to maximise the potential.”