Emerging Changes in Australia's Housing Landscape

By Greville Pabst FAPI FRICS, CEO & Director, WBP Property Group

Residential housing in Australia is under increasing pressure as our country's population surges to more than 22.3 million. According to the ABS, Australia is one of the fastest growing countries in the developed world with a growth rate of 2.1 percent, which resulted in an increase of almost half a million people in the year to September 2009.

But increasing demand from a growing population is just one factor creating strain on supply with the issue further exacerbated by changes in household demographics and lifestyle trends that show an increase in the number of single person households.

With capital cities housing the bulk of our population, due largely to questions of access, lifestyle and convenience, the trend of the past 20 years that saw increasing floor sizes but decreasing household sizes, will need to change.

While many argue the solution to the housing crisis is simply to build more houses to subdue the enormous demand, the problem is far more complex. Though demand for new land in suburban fringe areas is high there remains the need for adequate infrastructure to service new estate communities in order to make them viable options for their residents, many of which work in inner city areas.

However, complex planning laws governing the speed of development and of urban sprawl are delaying infrastructure progression and are important factors contributing to current issues of affordability and housing supply.

Consequently, larger households and McMansions will become a thing of the past as the population changes its mindset and shifts towards higher density dwellings such as apartments, units and townhouses.

As property values continue to climb and the supply of affordable land declines we will witness a change in Australia's housing landscape in years to come.

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