Australia Faces Housing Pressure as Immigration Surges to 70-Year High - Property Inc

Australia Faces Housing Pressure as Immigration Surges to 70-Year High

Australia’s property market is under significant strain as the country welcomes a staggering 765,900 new overseas arrivals in the 12 months to September 2023, marking a peak not seen in 70 years. This unprecedented influx has pushed the national vacancy rate to a record low, with the construction of new homes struggling to keep pace with the growing demand.

Rowan Crosby reports on this development, highlighting the pressures on the Australian housing market due to this surge in population. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the country’s population now officially stands at 27 million, with an average of 2,098 immigrants landing in Australia each day over the past year.

This growth has been felt across the nation, with New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia experiencing significant increases in their populations, largely driven by overseas migration. Western Australia, in particular, has seen the largest percentage increase, with a 3.3 per cent rise translating to an addition of 93,591 people, severely straining the housing and rental markets.

Cath Hart, Chief Executive Officer of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA), voiced concerns over the industry’s inability to match the pace of population growth. “While completions did increase in the third quarter of last year, our population keeps growing at near-record rates,” Hart stated. She pointed out a critical shortfall, with nearly 17,000 housing completions falling dramatically short of the 37,000 new households in Western Australia alone, indicating a pressing need for approximately 20,000 new homes to meet demand.

The impact of this growth extends beyond Western Australia, with the entire country facing a shortage of housing. Only 163,000 homes were approved for construction in the year to January 2024, significantly below the government’s construction target of 240,000 per year. Tim Reardon, HIA Chief Economist, criticized the systemic underestimation of population growth as a policy failure that exacerbates the housing supply challenge. He noted that the ABS’s projections were already surpassed by the time their announcement was made in November 2023.

The implications of this population surge are far-reaching, with Dan Tehan, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, calling the current levels of overseas migration unsustainable. “We’ve got record numbers of people coming into Australia,” Tehan remarked, “They are causing the housing crisis. They are causing a rental crisis … Yet businesses can’t get the workers that they want. It’s a catastrophe.”

As Australia grapples with these challenges, the dialogue around immigration and housing policy is increasingly charged, with calls for a balanced approach that supports economic growth while ensuring the infrastructure, including housing, keeps pace with demographic changes.


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