Victorian, Melbourne lockdowns drive buyers off the plan By Nathan Mawby

Victoria’s on and off lockdowns are proving a boon for new housing estates and apartment towers, with buyers increasingly going off-the-plan due to a lack of established listings.
Victorian, Melbourne lockdowns drive buyers off the plan    By Nathan Mawby
Since August last year, inquiries for new homes across the state have soared 87.7 per cent, new figures show. 

The data in the Prop Track New Homes Snapshot for September report indicate the surge has been led by new houses, with a 103.1 per cent increase in the 12 months. 

It adds to a 112 per cent rise in inquiry in the preceding year. 

New and off-the-plan apartments are now receiving 56.2 per cent more inquiry than they were a year ago — regaining ground lost when inquiries for units slipped back 25 per cent in the previous 12 months. 

Apartment inquiries suffered and house and land demand boomed last year, largely as a result of the federal government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder grants scheme, which, while available for both, had a number of constraints that made it much more viable for houses. 

But REA Group economic research director Cameron Kusher said the strong figures seen this year were an indirect result of Victoria’s lockdowns. 

“The main thing is that there’s a real lack of supply and stock in the established market,” Mr Kusher said. 

“So people are turning their attention to the new home segment because they can’t find what they are looking for.” 

Mr Kusher said with many vendors in the established market not willing to chance a sale without inspections and auctions being allowed, lockdowns effectively cut back on the number of homes for sale in the established market. 

“But selling new homes, you are selling the dream and the concept,” he said. 

Despite expecting an increase in established homes hitting the market later in the year could bring some buyers back to that part of the market, Mr Kusher said recent Housing Industry Association figures hinted many buyers were proceeding with plans for a new home, with high levels of land sales recorded. 

National Pacific Properties general manager Tom Trevaskis said housing estates were selling up to a year ahead of schedule. 

Mr Trevaskis pointed to the firm’s Bella estate in Melbourne’s southeast, which is expected to sell out more than 12 months early by mid next year. 

“This is from a number of things, including low interest rates, a lot of people looking to invest and results being so strong in the established market,” Mr Trevaskis said. 

“And we are starting to see repeat purchasers upsizing from earlier project purchases.” 

There were also instances of multiple family members buying into estates, which was difficult to achieve in the established market. 

Castran project marketing agent Dominic Ziino said there was also high demand for quality apartment projects, such as the Neighbourhood development by Antipodean in Brunswick East. 

The complex, one of four apartment buildings in the development, sold 40 per cent of its homes within three months. 

“People are going online and the houses that are there are just not good enough for what they are after,” Mr Ziino said. 

“Established property is really dire, and so are the prices they are asking for.” 

He added that at that at higher price points, buyers were seeing projects such as the Chomley Street townhouses development in Prahran as offering better quality living than their current houses. 

Victoria’s surging inquiries were still behind those reported in the ACT, where there was a 240 per cent increase in new home inquiries over the past year, and Queensland, up 118 per cent. 

Inquiries were down in both NSW, 6.8 per cent, and in Tasmania, 62.9 per cent. 

Demand for South Australia’s new home market is relatively flat, having risen a modest 1.7 per cent in the past 12 months. 

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