Canberra property market significantly improved since federal election: McGrath

Canberra property market significantly improved since federal election: McGrath
Canberra property market significantly improved since federal election: McGrath

The market has improved significantly in Canberra with a 7.6% spike in property values over the first eight months of the year compared to a decline of 0.9% for the same period in 2015, according to the latest McGrath report.

Underpinning this growth is an undersupply of houses for sale; greater stability in the federal government following many years of unrest; and a very low unemployment rate of just 3.6%, boosted by the lifting of a two-year hiring freeze in the public service in mid-2015.

There is a distinct new confidence in the marketplace following the federal election, their latest report advised.

Canberra is always directly affected by elections because one in three workers are employed in the public service.

Unlike the last federal election, there was no threat of mass job cuts on either side of politics, so the market maintained its momentum during the long campaign.

The Coalition’s return meant continuing stability for government employees; no changes to negative gearing or capital gains; and a tax cut that would benefit a large proportion of residents, who are among the highest paid workers in the country.

Opens have been well-attended and auction clearance rates for houses have remained just shy of 70% for the 12 months to June 2016, according to Domain research.

Interest rate cuts are no longer having a stimulatory effect, with buyers now used to record lows.

However, young couples and families are leveraging rates to stretch their budgets further and buy in premium locations close to the best schools.

The $1 billion ‘Mr Fluffy’ buyback and demolition of 1,022 homes across 56 suburbs by 2018 continues having a big impact on the market.

Approximately 260 homes have already been demolished with 176 scheduled for demolition between July and December 2016.

The scheme has displaced hundreds of families who all need to buy or rent.

They have been paid well for their homes and the stamp duty concession on their next purchase is giving them extra buying power and the ability to buy quickly and compete strongly at auction.

Some are staying in their area, others are upgrading elsewhere.

For example, many Mr Fluffy sellers in Belconnen are heading to nearby Gungahlin where they can purchase bigger, newer homes.

Meanwhile, the incredibly rare opportunity to buy vacant land in premium established suburbs following the demolition of Mr Fluffy homes is really exciting buyers.

The first 10 blocks were taken to auction in April. Among the sales was a block in Pearce for $605,000 and one in Chapman for $610,000 – both close to the city’s median house price of $607,000.

This signalled to other home owners just how valuable their land has become due to limited release of new supply in recent years.

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Canberra property market significantly improved since federal election: McGrath

Original housing stock in Canberra’s prized inner north and south is more than 60 years old and due for an overhaul.

Owners are realising the best way to capitalise on their land value is to re-build and families are out in force looking for knockdown opportunities in prime locations.

Downsizers are among these buyers, with many not ready for apartment living.

Townhouses are hard to find so many downsizers are looking to build dual occupancies instead – sometimes in joint venture deals with friends.

The Over 60s Home Bonus Scheme provides downsizers with a market advantage due to a substantial discount on stamp duty.

"On a $660,000 purchase, just $20 is payable. We are finding that many people are still unaware of this opportunity but once informed they feel incentivised to sell," the report stated.

Canberra’s apartment oversupply continues, comprising 51.2% of all homes for sale, according to CoreLogic RP Data. However, property values and rental yields are holding up well.

The median apartment price has risen 1.7% in calendar year 2016 and rental yields are among the highest in the country at 5.1%.

The rental market is being supported by extra demand from Mr Fluffy sellers as well as usual strong demand from young workers, students at two universities and public service contractors who do not want to settle in Canberra permanently.

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Canberra property market significantly improved since federal election: McGrath

John McGrath's top suburb picks in the ACT:

1. Kambah

Underrated and prime for growth, Canberra’s largest suburb with 6,140 homes offers better value than Woden and Weston Creek and a diverse range of properties. Centrally located, it is the most northern suburb of Tuggeranong with good access to arterial roads for the CBD commute.

2. Curtin

Big money is being spent in Curtin, which has undergone a changing of the guard over the past few years. Ex-government housing has been sold off, knocked down and re-built and family buyers priced out of Deakin, Hughes and Garran have bought and renovated.

3. O’Connor

Adjoining Turner where houses are in very short supply, O’Connor offers great value. However, strong buyer demand has made it Canberra’s number one suburb for growth in FY2016, with house prices rising 21.5% to a median of $960,000 and apartment/townhouse values up 15.3% to $490,000.

4. Franklin/Harrison

Sitting on opposite sides of Flemington Road, the main arterial road leading out of Gungahlin to the city, these two suburbs will directly benefit from the new light rail. Both are family-oriented neighbourhoods with good schools and close proximity to the CBD.

5. Cook/Aranda

These two suburbs are well positioned to benefit from Belconnen’s gentrification. A lot of new townhouses and apartments are being built in the area, creating residential precincts with great amenities including shops, restaurants and cinemas.

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Canberra Mcgrath

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