by Alan Thornhill
Have you been dreaming of building a house, outside the big cities, for your retirement?
If you are one of them, though, you should be watching land prices, very closely.
If you don’t, that dream could well pass out of reach.
A new report shows the mid level, or median price, of a building lot on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has now reached $240,000.
That is even higher that the price of a block of land on the Gold Coast, which at $234,000 is the second highest anywhere in Australia.
After the Sunshine Coast, of course.
So where are the cheap blocks?
The lowest prices, according to the report, published by the Housing Industry Association, are to be found in Southern Tasmania.
The median price, for a building block there, is just $62,000.
The region’s climate, though, probably does not have the immediate appeal of a Queensland beach.
The report reveals some strange quirks in land markets throughout Australia.
For example, the volume of land sales fell, in the final three months of last year, to its lowest level in a decade.
Land sales, in that time, were 40 per cent below those seen in the last three months of 2009.
Prices, though, rose sharply.
The report said, on weighted mid level measures, the price of building blocks throughout Australia, rose by 4.1 per cent, in the final three months of last year, reaching a level 5.9 per cent above those seen 12 months earlier.
So what is going on?
HIA economist, Matthew King, blamed a mix of planning and zoning delays, high regulatory costs, restrictive land release policies and high taxes.
The credit squeeze hadn’t helped either, Mr King said.
Nor had the interest rate rises, that arrived last November.
He said these are all bad signs for Australia’s building industry.
The fall in the number of land sales, in particular, suggested ongoing weakness in Australia’s housing construction sector, which was already “very soft,” Mr King said.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Tuesday May 21
The Dow Jones Index fell 18.97 points to 15,335.40
Unions are seeking a rise of $30 a week in the National Wage Case, which opens today
The latest Morgan Poll shows support for the L-NP down 1 per cent to 55 per centover the past week and the ALP at 45 per cent, 1 per cent, on a two-party preferred basis.
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