Buyers rush for newly built homes

The Australian Greg Brown Saturday, 11 January 2014 THE spike in residential construction last year was supported by a surge of buyers snapping up newly built homes and sales were up by 29 per cent in the year to November.

The heat in the market at the end of the year also paid off for new dwellings, with sales in November increasing by 7.5 per cent over October levels - the highest growth since January 2010.

Property experts said that the price growth in capital cities, particularly Sydney, saw a surge in upgraders buying new homes as the extra capital from their sales made it more affordable.

The change in the first-home buyers grant in most states over the last two years, where grants were changed from applying to all homes to new ones only, has also played a role.

Restrictions on offshore buyers, who can only buy new homes, were also a factor.

Sales of new homes are expected to be stronger this year, despite the overall market moderating, with some of Australia's largest developers and builders being buoyed by the latest figures.

A survey by the Housing Institute of Australia found that new detached houses were driving last year's growth, with 69,623 sold, up 31 per cent from 2012.

Sales of new apartments, mostly sold off the plan, rose by 21 per cent, with Asian investors helping to drive nearly 11,000 sales for the year.

In November, a spike in new apartments was the growth driver, with sales up 31 per cent as 1248 were snapped up nationally.

New house sales were up 3.6 per cent in November, to 5903.

The figures are a strong indicator that construction levels will increase this year, following better than expected building approvals for November released on Thursday.

Building approvals dipped by 1.5 per cent, which was less than analysts expected given a 17 per cent surge in September.

Residential building approvals in the year to November have increased by 23.9 per cent.

MacroPlan chief economist Jason Anderson said that the strong overall price growth was the biggest reason for the rise in new home sales, particularly in Sydney, where growth numbers had been sluggish since 2004.

"The relative affordability of new houses is encouraging upgraders to buy new houses," Mr Anderson said.

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