Home sales data points to recovery in Australia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 5:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 5:01am

Sales of new homes in Australia rose again in March, capping a solid quarter that showed a broadening recovery in the housing sector, an industry survey showed.

The Housing Industry Association said its survey of large builders showed sales of new homes rose 0.2 per cent from February, taking the quarterly increase to 5.8 per cent.

In the March quarter, sales of new detached houses grew 7 per cent, while the multi-unit sector eased 0.2 per cent. Detached-house sales increased in all of the surveyed states, led by a 20.2 per cent jump in Queensland.

"It's encouraging to see that during the March quarter, all of the surveyed states recorded increases in detached-house sales," said Diwa Hopkins, the association's economist.

Record-low interest rates have led to a marked pickup in home prices and clearance rates at auctions, while approvals to build new homes are trending sharply higher.

Rising home prices have so far been considered by policymakers as necessary to encourage a much-needed revival in home building.

Figures from property consultant RPData-Rismark showed home prices in April were 11.5 per cent higher than a year earlier, a step up from March's 10.6 per cent annual pace.

Sydney was out in front with price gains of 16.7 per cent, followed by Melbourne at 11.6 per cent. The median price of a home across all capitals was A$550,000 (HK$4 million).

The increases have been concentrated in the cities with prices outside the capitals falling 0.8 per cent in April to be just 2.6 per cent higher for the year.

Meanwhile, on a month-on-month basis, home prices across major cities crept up by 0.3 per cent from March when they jumped 2.3 per cent.

Adelaide led the way with a gain of 2.1 per cent, while prices in Melbourne and Canberra dipped in the month.