Population growth does not, alone, create real estate hotspots: Terry Ryder

Population growth does not, alone, create real estate hotspots: Terry Ryder
Population growth does not, alone, create real estate hotspots: Terry Ryder

Population growth does not, alone, create real estate hotspots. And it’s not the core element of a growth property market. If it was, Melbourne prices would have grown faster than Sydney’s over the past five years.

Population is a factor, one of many to be considered.

In that regard, a recent analysis of population trends written by “Glenn the Census Exert” from the .id website team makes interesting reading. It focuses on Australia’s 50 largest cities and towns, based on ABS data for the 2015 financial year.

It shows the prominence of Melbourne as the nation-leading city. Over the 2015 financial year and over the previous five years, Melbourne added more to its population than Sydney did. Melbourne grew 10.1 percent in five years (adding almost 400,000 people), compared to Sydney’s 8.2 percent (343,000 extra citizens). Melbourne grew 2.0 percent in FY2015, compared to Sydney’s 1.7 percent.

So why has Sydney’s price growth been so much higher than Melbourne’s? Because Sydney’s economy has been stronger and the infrastructure spend has been much greater than Melbourne’s. Population growth is important, but economic strength and infrastructure spending has greater influence.

Perth has been an outstanding population growth story as well. Although it has a smaller population than Brisbane it has added considerably more (236,000) over the past five years than Brisbane (190,000) has. In fact, over five years Perth has a higher growth rate (13.7 percent) than Melbourne (10.1 percent) but its growth has slowed markedly in recent years – so that in FY2015 Perth’s population growth rate was lower than those in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Its stellar growth stopped when the resources boom fell away.

Of the 50 largest urban areas in Australia, the fastest growth rate over five years was achieved by the Melton LGA on the western periphery of Melbourne, up 28 percent. Another growth area on the fringes of Melbourne, the Warragul-Drouin area, grew 14.2 percent over five years. In that same time frame, Geelong added 12,000 to its population, a rise of 7 percent. This adds to the general scenario of Melbourne as the king of population growth. 

Also prominent were the Busselton (up 18.5 percent) and Bunbury (up 15 percent) areas, both south of Perth.

In terms of growth in FY2015, Melton was again No.1 (up 4.6 percent in 12 months), followed by Warrugul-Drouin, Busselton, Bunbury and Gladstone in Queensland (all growing between 2 percent and 3 percent over 12 months).

Other notable growth centres include the Sunshine Coast, which added as much to its population over five years as Canberra did, and the Gold Coast, which added twice as many people as Canberra and 10 times more than Hobart. 

The percentage growth rate for the Gold Coast is no longer as high as in the past (it’s now growing from a much larger base, so spectacular growth numbers aren’t so easy), but it’s still a massive growth centre. The population of the Gold Coast-Tweed region grew 53,500 over five years, a rise of almost 10 percent. It’s the nation’s sixth largest city, with 625,000 residents, well ahead of Newcastle-Maitland and Canberra-Queanbeyan.

So why have Gold Coast prices down little over the past five or six years, amid all that population growth? Because developers oversupplied the market with high-rise apartments, yet again. After six down years, the market is now showing some growth, because the surplus has been soaked up and, more importantly, there’s a massive infrastructure spend happening.

The Sunshine Coast has been a big growth centre. Its growth rate over five years (9 percent) has been almost as big as the Gold Coast’s, and 25,000 has been added to its population. The Sunshine Coast is the nation’s 10th biggest city – larger than Wollongong and considerably larger than Hobart.

Similar to the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast has become a growth property market because of significant new spending on infrastructure and other construction projects.

Townsville has attracted some negative headlines lately but it’s a significant growth city, adding 16,000 or 10% to its population over the past five years, reaching 180,000. It’s growing faster than its North Queensland rival, Cairns.


Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au. You can email him or follow him on Twitter.

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au.

Real Estate Residential Market


Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?