In what was a dynamic year for the Australian property market, we saw fluctuations in affordability, prices and investment trends throughout 2018. At the start of this new year, iBuildNew discusses predictions for the property market for 2019, and what we can expect to see in the new home sector.
More land will be coming to market
Over recent years the new land market has been hot, especially in the Sydney and Melbourne markets. With the market softening, new land releases won’t sell out the same week they are released, and the availability of land to pick from will slowly grow during the course of the year. Coupled with some very large projects arriving on the market in 2019, buyers will have much greater options.
Deposit amounts will reduce
Once upon a time, deposits on land were 5%. But with a surge in demand driven mainly by population growth in Sydney and Melbourne, major developers moved to 10% initial deposits and the market followed. With demand softening and the market becoming more competitive, developers are starting to accept 5% deposits again. This will likely become the norm once again in 2019.
More promotions to buyers on new land
Similar to the above, promotions and incentives in locations where you find multiple new land developments were once prevalent across the market. But with land sales so strong in recent years these bonuses dried up. This has positive implications for the new home sector: look out for some great buying opportunities and added value from developers in 2019.
Affordability will remain a major challenge
Housing affordability is probably the single biggest challenge facing home buyers and the property industry. Land appreciation and a shortage of labour to deliver development projects, and indeed home builds, has pushed costs and pricing to all-time highs across every capital city of Australia. Coupled with virtually stagnant wage growth over the last decade, the affordability crunch was inevitable. Now with financial regulations and lending practices tightening, home buyers can’t just keep borrowing more to cover the price growth, so the affordability challenge, especially for first home buyers is going nowhere. The good news is, home building in new land estates remains a more affordable way to get enter the property market, perhaps with a few exceptions.
Land lots will continue to get smaller, and smaller
Affordability will be somewhat relieved by smaller and smaller land lot sizes becoming available. It’s one of the few options available to drive down prices. The average land lot size across Melbourne and Sydney has reduced from around 600 square metres to just under 400 square metres in the last 3-4 years. Thus, this is not a new trend, but with many land lots now in the 300-350 square metre range, it will continue to decline, and it’s well known that some developers are planning developments with 220 square metre lots!
A broader range of designs to suit small blocks of land
With land lots getting smaller, and specifically more narrow, we will see builders offering a greater range of home designs to suit narrow lots. Most builders already have designs that work on 10m wide blocks, but we will now see many offering great and innovative designs to work with 8m wide lots, and even 6m wide land!
More townhouse projects than ever
Again affordability is driving developers to go down the path of terrace townhouses. In many of the new land developments, it has become a condition of the planning approval that a certain number of townhouses are available in a drive to offer more affordable homes to buyers, especially first home buyers. We also predict that we will see more infill projects in some suburbs closer to the CBD, which has been a growing trend in the last few years for both builders and developers. Some of the townhouse projects now available and not only affordable, often in the $400,000 range, but they are incredibly stylish!
Greater and bigger promotions from home builders
Within the new home sector, the marketplace is increasingly competitive, and with that comes bigger and better promotions from home builders. This is great for home buyers as items that may be on your wish list that would typically be upgrades can now be found within a promotion, ie. 900mm appliances rather than standard 600mm appliances, just as one example that can be worth several thousand dollars. If you are down to two or three options when comparing different builders, take a close look at the promotions that are likely to be on offer as coming into 2019 they will be bigger and better than ever.
Builders will fix prices for longer
In recent years, with land titling in some cases 12-24 months into the future and with some uncertainty around build costs, builders have been reluctant to fix prices any more than 12 months in advance (in some cases much less). However, with increased competition in the new home sector, greater certainty on land titling, and less volatility around labour availability and rates, builders are more willing to fix contracted prices for more extended periods. You will find builders offering a fixed contract price for up to 18 months, and in some cases at absolutely no or minimal costs to the buyer.
The outlook for 2019 is favourable for the new home sector. While lots and homes may decrease in size, home designs are set to change with an emphasis on utilising space. With more land available with a lower deposit, the scope for affordability is set to widen.
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