REIQ calls on QLD Government to do more in State Budget

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) has called for more action to address the housing crisis ahead of the State Budget.

REIQ Chief Executive Officer, Antonia Mercorella, said it was important to lay bare the facts regarding the state of Queensland’s housing market.

“The latest ABS data on our state’s building approvals, dwelling commencements and completion times does not tell a story of a state that’s headed towards housing recovery,” Ms Mercorella said.

“On the contrary, it appears Queensland is falling deeper into the housing crisis, and without some major systemic changes it’s hard to see how we’ll claw our way out.”

She said based on overall building approvals, dwelling commencements and completions, there was not enough supply to catch up to demand.

“ABS building approval data shows that in the 12 months to April 2024 there was a 13.5 per cent decline in private dwelling apartment approvals in Queensland,” she said.

“Dwelling commencements in the private sector dropped by 7.4 per cent in the last calendar year, while completions dropped by 1.4 per cent.

“Social housing completions of new builds over the past two years are at historic lows, which is concerning given our state’s waitlist of more than 40,000 people.”

Ms Mercorella said plummeting construction productivity was a pain point that continued to cost Queensland dearly.

“Queensland has the longest completion times for apartments in the country at 26 months. Ten years ago, this was only 14 months,” she said.

“Due to soaring costs and poor productivity, the apartment market has skewed towards the upper end of the market, creating a ‘missing middle’ in housing product diversity.

“This is clearly demonstrated on the Gold Coast where developments catering to larger, luxury apartments with a correlating price tag of $1 million or above are now almost exclusively the norm.”

She said it was easy to assume big government infrastructure projects worth more than $100 million have little impact on residential housing, but tradies were being absorbed by such projects, which was affecting costs and productivity across the entire construction sector.

“It is now taking more than 50 per cent longer to complete a house in Queensland than it did 10 years ago,” Ms Mercorella said.

“This points to declining productivity in the sector.”

Ms Mercorella said it was disappointing to see Queenslanders continue to be left with lip service when it cames to on-the-ground action to ease the housing crisis.

“We’re not saying that the principles of the Homes for Queenslanders plan aren’t sound, but we are wondering how they can deliver their targets in the current market conditions,” she said.

“It’s not surprising to hear government-funded organisations praising this plan given the millions in funding they receive, but it’s an interesting change of tune when you consider how little has been delivered since the Housing Summit was called for.

“In an election year, it can be convenient for parties to set lofty targets and make promises that they may never have to fulfil.”

She said the REIQ feared none of those announcements would translate into the new houses, and in the meantime, they’ve legislated the life out of the property market – whether you want to buy, build or rent, there’s no appealing prospects left.

“Recent ill-considered rental reforms are already causing confusion and uncertainty in the market, and we question whether they deliver on their intention to benefit tenants,” she said.

“Queensland should be the state to watch, with huge opportunities on our horizon, but the sentiment is that we’re simply not set up for success. 

“We need a vision that will bring back hope and optimism to Queenslanders.”

Ms Mercorella called on both parties to use State Budget week to move beyond short-term sweeteners and to lay out a long-term vision for Queensland housing.

“We need an accountable delivery plan from both parties that will provide the pathways to secure housing for Queensland, supported by necessary infrastructure and services,” she said.

“While we welcome the setting of targets, it means nothing without accountability – the government should commit to open and transparent monthly reporting against set KPIs.

“This will ensure that houses added to the social housing tally represent additional supply and are not just repurposed dwellings from other parts of the housing market.”

She said she would like to see a budget that builds and encourages pathways to home ownership. 

“The Homes for Queenslanders plan barely touches on this with Queensland holding the title of lowest homeownership of any state in the country,” she said.

“The State Government seem to have forgotten about aspirational buyers and how we can help them take that very first step to get into home ownership.

“The Help to Buy scheme relies on the Federal Government, and we’d like to see Queensland showing leadership with initiatives of its own to help people realise their dreams of home ownership.”

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