How Australia’s population growth is changing the shape of our property markets

Australia’s population increased by close to 400,000 new people last year.  That’s like tacking on another Canberra or Newcastle to the Australian land mass.

Most of the growth took place on the eastern seaboard, with Perth chipping in with its 83,000.

Victoria grew by 100,000 new residents.  Queensland & New South Wales grew by about 90,000 each.

More births than deaths, made up for about 40 per cent of the increase.  Just under two-thirds of our growth (235,000 last year) now comes from overseas….the kind who fly in, not those arriving on rickety old boats.


Big Australia

I think we handle our population growth quite well.

We need more, not less, of it.

Our population and economy, for mine, are way too small.  We need to build some serious economies of scale.

[sam id=31 codes=’true’] Australia’s vital organs & circulatory system are outside its body.

What I mean by this is that what really matters to us, economically, is some distance from our shores.

And we have very little influence or control over much of it.

We seem to lurch from boom to boom – wheat, wool, coal, iron ore, now gas etc.

What happens in China/Asia & America’s sphere of influence (in many ways) greatly affects our prosperity.  This will remain such for generations to come.  But we also start to create our own larger markets.

We are on our way.


Did you know that Australia’s population has increased by 30 per cent in just 20 years? 

We have added the equivalent of Sydney’s population since the early 1990s.

Queensland’s population has increased by 50 per cent; Western Australia’s & the Northern Territory’s by about 40 per cent.  Half of the growth over this period came from natural increase.

Big Australia?

Well maybe not, and I don’t want to give Kevin Rudd anymore oxygen.  But sadly there is no conversation, not a pip, regardless of party, about population targets, urban matters & regional planning.  Serious policies (not politics) about such matters are long overdue.


More recent stats
Our current rate of population growth is up 25 per cent on two years ago.

The big winner in this overall lift in more bums on seats includes Western Australia, with population growth up 50 per cent (or 28,000 more people each year) on the 2010 trough & Queensland plus Victoria, both with lifts in excess of 30 per cent or more than 23,000 new people per annum.

Victoria equals population growth.  Well I’ll be damned.  Bloody great place to visit.  But living there?


City winners
Those urban places that saw over 4,000 new heads (above ground) during 2012 include:

Melbourne (77,000 increase); Perth (65,000); Sydney (62,000); Brisbane (43,000); Adelaide (14,000); Gold Coast (11,000); Canberra (7,000); Sunshine Coast (5,000); Newcastle (5,000) & Townsville (4,000).

These top ten growth cities hold four-fifths of Australia’s population growth.

Our eight capital cities combined make up 70 per cent of the country’s population growth.  And whilst Queensland is the most decentralised state or territory, two-thirds of its population growth takes place between Noosa, Ipswich & the NSW border.


Recent changes

Not only has there been an increase in the proportion (and number) of overseas migrants as part of the total population mix in recent times; where these migrants come from has changed too.

Yes, New Zealand (29,000 last year); the Old Dart (12,000) & South Africa (5,000) still add considerably to our long-term permanent inflow.

But many new migrants come from elsewhere abroad.

Just over 35,000 new migrants settled here from China & India last year (17,500 apiece).  A lot also have come from the Philippines (7,000); Malaysia & Vietnam (4,000 each); Sri Lanka (3,500) & Iraq (2,500).


Remember, these figures are for long-term permanent residents. 

Our 235,000 overseas increase, whilst a net result (includes incoming & outgoing migrants), does include those arriving on a short-term basis.  The ABS estimates that about half of our net overseas migration is temporary, whether it is on work or student visas.

Also changed of late is the level & distribution of interstate migration across the country.


Queensland is the best case study in this regard. 

Twenty years ago two out three new residents in Queensland moved from interstate.  Ten years ago it was close to half.  Five years ago it was a quarter.  Last year it was just one eighth.

Today half of Queensland’s population growth comes from overseas migration & another third (actually 37 per cent) from natural increase.

Queensland’s overseas migration profile is very similar to Australia’s overall.  Half of those who still come to Queensland from interstate originate from New South Wales & especially from western Sydney.  One in four come from Victoria, again mostly from the western flank of Melbourne.  Ten per cent come from Perth.


So what does this mean?

We are, and it looks like we will remain, quite urbanised.

Capital cities & a select few major regional centres attract most of the population growth.

Increasing demand; tempered with limited new housing supply; is a positive for property investors.

If managed well, it is also a bonus for the local residents, as size often brings better services, wider choice & deeper markets.  And yes, sadly, more fast food outlets – but you don’t have to eat there!

Household size is also increasing.  We have been writing about such for some time (enter ‘household size’ in the Missive’s search area for a fun evening’s reading) & what this means is less overall new housing demand than has historically been the case.

The cause of this rise isn’t low affordability, as is often spruiked, but demographics – more babies are being born & more migrants are coming from countries with traditionally larger families.

Also, the Chinese who move here want to have more children than allowed (afforded) in China.

Also limiting new housing demand is the GST on new construction & stamp duties.  Both are forcing many to age in place.  Stamp duties, in particular, hinder local moves.

This is why we are now seeing more money spent in Australia on renovations than new builds.

The resurgence of the ‘granny-flat’ and ‘man-cave’ or shed is also seeing demand being increasingly satisfied on existing premises rather than on new sites.

When Kevin McCloud has a TV show about his new shed, you just know it is a popular trend.

When it comes to actually building new housing & despite the increase in household size, attached product is increasingly popular.  And the smaller product, therein, is becoming more prevalent.

A lot of this has to do with price (and the Australian investment model) but also we are importing transience.

If half of our net overseas intake is coming here on a less than permanent basis & those numbers are rising, surely the need for temporary accommodation or housing that suits a more ‘living out not in’ visitor lifestyle must also be on the rise.

In a country with as much land as Australia, one might shake one’s head and wonder why.  I still live on acreage.  We haven’t moved that far from our first place.  Increasingly I feel like the odd man out.  I don’t think I am alone.


If you’re serious about property investment please join me and a group of property and tax experts at my upcoming Property Market and Economic Updates that I’ll be conducting in 4 states in August and September 2013

I will be presenting a heap of BRAND NEW content I haven’t discussed in public before. I guarantee there will be several things I reveal that you are not doing and you should be!

Click here now to get more details and reserve your seat.

Property & Econonomic Update

If you want to cut through all of the media hype, and all the contradictory predictions, and finally learn the truth (good and bad) about what is going to happen to the Australian property markets, this seminar is exactly for you…  Click here now to get more details and reserve your seat.

Michael Yardney



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Michael Matusik


Michael is director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights. He is independent, perceptive and to the point; has helped over 550 new residential developments come to fruition and writes his insightful Matusik Missive

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