The announcement of a further 0.25% interest rate rise has predictably drawn comment that recent strong property sales volumes will slow. And we agree. There’s no doubt buyer confidence in the market will ease because this is exactly what the Reserve Bank needs. To rein in inflation the RBA needs you and I to put our wallets away. But in the face of this co-ordinated campaign to slow property sales we thought it worth reviewing some of the supply and demand issues behind Brisbane’s solid property price growth.
More people require more homes, and the ABS tells us our national population grows by 1 person every 1 minute and 42 seconds. New arrivals off the plane pretty much cancel out deaths, so every time a doctor slaps a new-born bum our country needs more homes. Queensland was the only state last year to record significant population growth (approx 24,000) while NSW the only to record a big drop (approx 24,000 – if only they would support our Origin team once they got here!).
What about ability to borrow and repay a loan? Our unemployment rate dropped again in January, now at 4.1%. And in the year to November our wages were up 5%. There’s no doubt interest rate rises will put home ownership out of many people’s reach, and these people will continue to rent, adding pressure to that surging market.
On the supply side Queensland’s building approvals dropped almost 6% in December and nationally we had a 3% drop in investment housing finance in the same month. The Housing Industry Association says we’re undersupplied by 20,000 homes and the prices of new homes are continuing to rise. In its recent HIA Trades Report it records all residential construction trades as being in short supply with SE Qld one of the most severely affected by skills shortages. If you can’t find a sparkie to fix anything it’s because they’re rated as “critical short supply”. Booms in mining, infrastructure works and commercial building are all forcing construction prices higher.
Overall we have more people earning more money needing more homes, with those homes costing more to build. In areas like Brisbane’s inner city this situation is at its strongest. So while the RBA wields its ‘rates sabre’ the decision to not buy will for many be based on fear, that strongest of investment emotions.
For those who understand the strength of demand and scarcity of supply, and recognise an opportunity, this could well be a great time to buy.