ACT News


ACT land drought almost thing of the past

The worst of Canberra's residential land crisis could be over, according to the ACT government's land sales agency.

The Economic Development Directorate says that 25 blocks left on the shelf in a sales ballot aimed mostly at first homebuyers this month was an indication that supply might finally be close to catching up with demand.

EDD director David Dawes said he was cautiously optimistic after the April 3 ballot which saw the sale of 98 of 123 blocks offered for sale in new development fronts in Gungahlin and Molonglo.

Mr Dawes said the ''orderly process'' of the sale of the shovel-ready blocks indicated that his agency was close to getting on top of the acute undersupply of residential land that has dogged the capital's housing market for several years.

A key building industry figure agreed yesterday that the territory's land shortage problem was ''unquestionably'' easing but warned that the government still had much to do at the low-income end of the market.

The 104 blocks that were offered in the Gungahlin suburbs of Bonner and Harrison attracted average prices of $248,000 and $249,000 respectively and in the new Molonglo suburb of Wright where just 19 blocks were offered, prices averaged $336,000.


Mr Dawes said the process was in sharp contrast to some land releases in recent years when buyers and builders sometimes went to desperate lengths to secure residential building land.

''In the initial ballot we sold 98 out of 123, these were blocks that were ready to build on,'' Mr Dawes said.

''We had quite a number of registrations but not everyone showed up, so that shows that it was quite an orderly process, not like sitting in the convention bureau hoping your number would come up.'' A similar offering two years ago would have had people ''trying to camp out''.

Mr Dawes stressed that he believed that supply had not yet caught up with demand but that there was reason for optimism.

''We believe the worst is over,'' he said.

''Since 2007-08 financial year, we've sold 17,136 blocks plus this financial year to date, 1000 dwelling blocks, so I believe that we're catching up with demand.

''Obviously the government's goal is still to get to a position where we have an inventory of land where people can come along and kick the kerb and we have a way to go before we get there.''

Bob Winnel, of the Village Building Company, said of the April 3 ballot, ''that's still not a bad clearance rate''.

''But demand is unquestionably easing, except at the bottom of the market,'' Mr Winnel said.

''There is no question that supply, in most parts of the market, is catching up with demand and I think we've removed the backlog of demand and we're now on long-term demand, which is about 2700 [blocks] a year.''

''We're no longer needing to build these 5000 blocks a year but the gap in the market is the bottom end, the $400,000, three-bedroom house and land packages are fast disappearing from the market.

''At the bottom end of the market, the government's program is not delivering land that will enable low-income earners to remaining the market.''

But Mr Dawes said that the government's OwnPlace scheme had put buyers into homes at the affordable end of the market.