Western Australia sees growth amidst national housing sales dip

By Our Reporter
This upward trajectory in Western Australia is now translating into a modest rise in approvals, which is expected to sustain a steady flow of new home starts throughout 2024

Despite the general downturn in new home sales across Australia, largely due to ongoing rate hikes, Western Australia stands out as a remarkable exception. The latest data from the Housing Industry Association (HIA) paints a contrasting picture of the national housing market, with Western Australia notably defying the trend of declining sales.

HIA Chief Economist Tim Reardon’s analysis paints a clear picture of the national landscape: a persistent low in new home sales throughout 2023, foreshadowing a continued contraction in housing commencements into 2024. This trend marks a concerning period for the housing sector, with projections pointing towards the lowest number of new house starts since 2012.

However, Western Australia stands as a solitary beacon of resilience in this scenario. According to the HIA New Home Sales report, a monthly survey targeting the largest volume home builders in the country’s five largest states, Western Australia has experienced a significant upturn. Since an early 2023 trough, sales in the state have risen dramatically. The three months leading to the end of November 2023 saw a 49.1% increase compared to the same period in the previous year.

This upward trajectory in Western Australia is now translating into a modest rise in approvals, which is expected to sustain a steady flow of new home starts throughout 2024. However, this growth is not without its challenges. The state faces an acute shortage of skilled tradespeople, a factor likely to cap the potential expansion in starts. Despite this, the unique positioning of Western Australia’s housing market sets it apart from the national trend, making it an outlier in the current economic environment.

Contrastingly, the broader Australian housing market exhibits a different story. New home sales nationwide fell by 7.0% in November and have remained at lower volumes, primarily influenced by rising interest rates which continue to constrain house building. This national downturn is reflected in the statistics for other states. Sales in South Australia, Victoria, and NSW witnessed significant declines of 26.1%, 14.2%, and 9.4%, respectively, over the same three-month period compared to the previous year. Queensland, while not matching the surge seen in Western Australia, still recorded a 6.3% increase in sales.

This divergence in housing market trends highlights the varied impacts of economic policies and local market conditions across Australia. Western Australia’s robust performance in new home sales, contrasting sharply with the national trend, underscores the unique economic dynamics at play within the country.

The situation also raises questions about the potential long-term effects of these divergent trends on the Australian housing market and economy. As Western Australia continues to buck the national trend, it presents an interesting case study in resilience and adaptation in an otherwise challenging economic landscape. However, the looming issue of skilled labour shortages could dampen the state’s potential for growth, adding complexity to an already intricate housing market narrative in Australia.

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