Land sales skyrocket as buyers pounce on HomeBuilder grants
The chance to build a brand-new home for a bargain has lured thousands of Aussie buyers into the market as developers across the nation report skyrocketing sales and inquiries mere days after the launch of the federal government’s new HomeBuilder scheme.
Despite initial confusion over grant eligibility, hundreds of sales were clocked up over last weekend alone – spanning small lots on the Sunshine Coast through to blocks in Melbourne’s sprawling residential developments with first-home buyers leading the new-build charge.
Chief operating officer at Oliver Hume Julian Coppini said in the seven days leading up to Sunday they achieved a pandemic-busting 156 reservations for land across their Queensland and Victorian projects, a figure that was up almost 70 per cent on the previous week and 130 per cent on the week before that.
“The initial response to the announcement of HomeBuilder has been extremely positive … inquiry also continues to grow with more than 1500 people inquiring about property last week compared to 1117 two weeks ago,” Mr Coppini said.
“We are seeing a combination of previous buyers who had delayed their purchase as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 coming back to market, combined with buyers who are in the market purely to take advantage of the HomeBuilder grant and other incentives. The lifting of restrictions around visitors to display suites two weeks ago [also] really kicked things off.”
Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar said that as of noon on Tuesday, there had been 188,000 visits to the HomeBuilder website and more than 13,800 Australians had registered their interest in the grant.
Figures supplied to Domain showed the state breakdown of interest, which revealed Queenslanders were leading the charge, followed by Victoria, NSW and South Australia.
“HomeBuilder has been designed to achieve specifically what the residential construction sector asked from us, and that is to avoid the construction pipeline from running dry in the second half of this year,” Mr Sukkar said.
“It is designed to drive demand today from Australians who are looking to build a new home, or to undertake a major rebuild of their existing home, but withdrew from the market when COVID-19 hit in March.”
Developer Villawood Properties also reported a major surge in land sales hot on the heels of the HomeBuilders package, with executive director Rory Costelloe saying numbers had dramatically risen to reach their highest level since the boom days of 2017.
Mr Costelloe said first-home buyers were leading the charge, making up about 50 per cent of their 59 lot sales clocked across the country over the past week.
“We’ve gone from single-digit weekly sales in March to low-20s in April and May to mid-30s and now this,” Mr Costelloe said.
“There’s been a massive boost in inquiry of more than 30 per cent, with sales following.”
He said growing market confidence was being led by first-home buyers who were quick to capitalise on grants that added up to $50,000 for metropolitan buyers and $60,000 for regional purchasers.
He added that 2020 was already shaping up to be a stronger sales year than 2019 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but said increased market confidence was still required to spark the continued construction of new development stages.
While the grant spans renovations through to new builds, Sunshine Coast-based Town Group sales manager Craig Morrison said the complicated eligibility rules around renos would undoubtedly entice more Aussies to pounce on the new-build package.
He said those buyers had been quick to jump on vacant lots at their boutique estate Azure Forest Glen over the weekend, with 21 sales clocked.
“From Friday onwards the tap just turned on [with new-home buyers]. We weren’t expecting it and we weren’t prepared for it,” Mr Morrison said.
“It was a mix of first-home buyers with young families and retirees … and while the initial response has been positive, the real test will take place over the next couple of months as buyers seek to finalise their finance.
“While the demand has been strong, there is some uncertainty around the different incentives and people’s eligibility so there is still a bit of work to do by the government in educating people about the detail.”
Stockland chief executive of communities Andrew Whitson also reported high levels of traffic across their many property developments following the HomeBuilder stimulus package release, with inquiry levels soaring to a rate that was three times higher than the 2019 average.
“Those who are in a position to purchase were keen to make the most of the government stimulus, particularly for land that is already titled. Pleasingly, customer sentiment is much more positive following the government stimulus announcement, and many customers are telling us the extra help is enabling them to complete their purchase ahead of their planned schedule,” Mr Whitson said.