Darwin sales falling away dramatically

Darwin sales falling away dramatically
Darwin sales falling away dramatically

Major projects are in the planning pipeline for Darwin and the Northern Territory and Darwin’s real estate market desperately needs some of them to proceed.

The local economy lacks activity, jobs creation and population growth – and, as a consequence, property market statistics remain highly negative. 

The regular data on prices and rents continue to show the Darwin market in reverse. Unit prices in Darwin, for example, are down 10.6% (CoreLogic) or 11.7% (SQM Research) in annual terms. The trends also remain negative for house prices and rentals.

Unlike the other downturn capital city, Perth, there are as yet no signs of recovery for Darwin.

The Darwin market downturn has coincided with the end of the resources investment boom and the consequent decline in the Northern Territory economy. As a result, jobs creation and population growth has suffered.

This inevitably has fed through to Darwin real estate, with sales activity falling away dramatically. In Darwin City, residential sales totalled between 435 and 565 in every quarter of 2014 and 2015. But in 2017, quarterly sales been regularly below 330. 

In the apartment market, the rate of sale in 2014 and 2015 was well over 200 sales per quarter, but in 2017 the average was less than 150 per quarter.

The slump has been even more dramatic in the Palmerston LGA adjoining Darwin City. Residential sales totalled over 1,200 in 2014 and 1,100 in 2015, but below 500 in 2017. 

Given that Palmerston is where most of the new residential suburbs have been emerging, these figures illustrate the slump in buyer demand for new homes in the Darwin market.

This has pushed down prices markedly. Virtually every suburb in the Darwin metropolitan area has recorded price decline in the past quarter, the past year and the past three years. 

Most suburbs in the Darwin region have house price levels lower than five years ago.

Examples include the suburb of Alawa, where the median house price has dropped 9% in the latest quarter, 10% in the past year and 22% in the past three years. Its median house price is now $465,000.

In Karama, the median price has dropped 6% in the past quarter, 11% in the past year and 22% in the past three years, and is now $430,000. The Moulden median house price is down 2% (quarter), 11% (12 months) and 20% (three years) to reach $310,000.

There are similarly negative results in the apartment market.

There are two exceptions to this story of decline: the upmarket suburbs of Nightcliff (median house price $770,000) and Rapid Creek ($720,000) have each recorded growth in the past quarter, year and three years - and, unlike most Darwin suburbs, have median prices higher than five years ago.

Significantly, Nightcliff and Rapid Creek show up in Hotspotting’s quarterly surveys of sales activity as suburbs with fairly consistent sales performance. This is in contrast to our overall findings, where most suburbs are classified as danger markets (which means sales activity has dropped markedly and remain well below the peak levels). 

Beyond the Darwin metropolitan area, Alice Springs continues to be the strongest market in the Territory, based on the consistency of its sales performance. It has recorded between 100 and 130 dwelling sales in most of the past 12 quarters - and lately has shown an upward trend.

The Alice house market was at its strongest in 2015 and now quarterly sales (rising from 62 to 73 to 77 to 88 house sales in the past four quarters) are approaching those levels again.

As a result, and in sharp contrast to Darwin, most suburbs in Alice Springs have shown solid growth in median house prices. Braitling, East Side, Larapinta and Gillen have all recorded growth in the past quarter, year and three years.  

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au

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Terry Ryder

Terry Ryder

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

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