Government incentives and lack of housing stock in the established residential market made Canberra’s construction sector a hive of activity last year, as buyers looked to purchase off-the-plan homes. But which suburbs had the most building approvals in 2020?
According to a CoreLogic analysis, the suburbs that saw the highest number of building approvals for units were Reid, Braddon and Dickson with more than 500 approvals in the last year. Other suburbs included Bruce, Civic and Woden.
Geocon corporate affairs manager Elliot Woods said the ACT government had a “firm control over where density is deemed appropriate”.
“All the sites listed by the ABS have featured heavily on the ACT government’s Indicative Land Release Program over the last five years. Geocon strongly supports more density in our town centres,” he said.
Under the program, the government will release 15,600 homes across a number of suburbs – particularly new areas – to cater to the capital’s growing population. The ACT government forecasts Canberra’s population will reach 460,000 people by 2023.
Mr Woods said sales in the unit market “exceeded our expectations”, thanks to a rise in both investor and owner-occupier purchasers and the federal government’s HomeBuilder grant.
“HomeBuilder was a useful kick-along for first-home owners, particularly in the last quarter. We also have a number of downsizers who are looking to purchase an apartment in Woden, Belconnen and the city,” he said.
The HomeBuilder grant was introduced in June in a bid to support the construction industry during COVID-19. It gave eligible house hunters $25,000 if they bought a newly built property. The grant was reduced to $15,000 after December 31 and will end at the end of this month.
The analysis showed the areas with the most building approvals for houses were located in West Belconnen, which includes the new suburbs of Strathnairn, Holt, Denman Prospect, Taylor and Throsby.
These suburbs all had more than 120 building approvals in 2020.
Nicholas Jacob of Independent Woden, who sells off-the-plan townhouses, said building approvals for houses were most in-demand in Canberra’s newer suburbs.
“Those suburbs with the most building approvals for houses come as no surprise to me because that’s where all the buyers are going to. Denman Prospect, parts of Gungahlin and Belconnen – that’s where the supply is coming from,” Mr Jacob said.
Townhouses have also been a popular choice for first-home buyers and downsizers, who are driving up building approvals across the capital, Mr Nicholas said.
“Last year was really interesting, it was busier than expected. In the first half, we were kept relatively busy despite the pandemic but the second half really saw some strong interest in newly built homes,” he said.
Blackshaw managing director Andrew Chamberlain echoed Elliot Woods’ comments and said the rate of sales for off-the-plan purchases was largely driven by the HomeBuilder incentive but also by a lack of supply in the residential market.
“Our off-the-plan sales have increased enormously in 2020, even more so than standard residential houses,” he said.
“That particular market might catch a breath when the stimulus ends and it might be quiet for a couple of months but who’s to know the way the market is going?
“We didn’t see a drop in the level of demand for new properties when the HomeBuilder grant decreased from $25,000 to $15,000 so it’s possible that the demand will remain even without the incentive.”