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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Interest rate uncertainty means other policy levers need to be pulled

Media release

Interest rate uncertainty means other policy levers need to be pulled

Media release
“Australia is closing in on the weakest two years of lending for new home building in over two decades,” stated HIA Senior Economist Tom Devitt.

The ABS released the Lending to Households and Businesses data for March 2024 today, which provides statistics on housing finance commitments.

“The number of loans issued for the construction or purchase of new homes was flat in March (+0.1 per cent), leaving the first three months of 2024 virtually unchanged compared to the same quarter last year (-0.1 per cent),” added Mr Devitt.

“This means the last 20 months of new home lending has been weaker than any equivalent period since the ABS started this data series in 2002.

“It is pointing to the weakest year of new house commencements in over a decade at the same time that record population growth is exacerbating Australia’s pre-existing and acute shortage of housing.

“Recent inflation data came in stronger than expected and has pushed back expectations of any interest rate cuts potentially into 2025.

“This reinforces the need to pull other policy levers to reduce the costs of construction and finance and enable a recovery in new home building.

“Tax reform is needed to bring investors back to the new housing market, especially with respect to the punitive surcharges imposed on foreign investors.

“Macroprudential rules need to make it easier for gainfully employed Australians to obtain a mortgage.

“More land needs to be made available for residential development of all types, in both our greenfield areas and existing suburbs close to jobs and transport.

“Changes to building codes are further inflating the costs of construction and need to be paused.

“It is possible to build the Australian Government’s target of 1.2 million homes over the next five years, but it will require significant lowering of taxes on home building, easing pressures on construction costs, and decreasing land costs,” concluded Mr Devitt.

In original terms, the total number of loans issued in the three months to March 2024 for the construction or purchase of new homes rose in Western Australia by 29.7 per cent compared to the previous year, followed by South Australia (+4.6 per cent) and Queensland (+0.5 per cent). The other jurisdictions saw declines in new home lending compared to the previous year, led by the Northern Territory (-45.3 per cent), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (-39.9 per cent), Tasmania (-17.9 per cent), Victoria (-9.9 per cent), and New South Wales (-5.6 per cent).

Lending for purchase and construction of a new home

Source: ABS Housing Finance

For more information please contact:

Thomas Devitt

HIA Senior Economist

Tim Reardon

HIA Chief Economist
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