New units now outweigh houses for first time on record

Building Activity data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this week revealed there were more newly built units completed over the December property purchase home2016 quarter than houses; the first time ‘on record’ this has occurred.

The number of new dwellings approved for construction recently fell from historically high levels according to the ABS.

Its latest building activity data for the December 2016 quarter showed that dwelling commencements and completions were actually higher over the quarter.

Meanwhile, the number of dwellings under construction and the number of dwellings approved, but awaiting commencement, actually fell.

Key Findings:    

Over the December 2016 quarter, 28,690 new houses commenced construction and 27,887 new units commenced construction.

While new house commencements were -3.4% lower, new unit commencements increased by 3.9%.

Since the end of 2016, there was a substantial decline in house and unit approvals.

It’s reasonable to expect that dwelling commencements will follow the lead of approvals and start to trend lower over the coming quarters.


In terms of dwelling completions, 28,102 new houses and 28,527 new units completed construction over the December 2016 quarter.

This marked the first quarter on record where more new units had been completed than new houses.

New house completions rose by 0.7% over the quarter while new unit completions surged 26.1% to a new record-high.


At the end of the quarter, there were 64,332 new houses under construction and 152,635 new units under construction.

There has been little change in the number of houses under construction over recent quarters while new unit construction remains historically high but has begun to fall.

Interestingly, when you look at the individual state data, the number of new units under construction in New South Wales is continuing to climb to new historic highs while the number under construction in Victoria and Queensland, where concerns around inner city unit supply are more pronounced, is now clearly trending lower.


The ABS results also showed that the number of new houses and units approved for construction but not yet commenced, amounted to 9,814 houses and 29,044 units. house real estate

The number of new houses approved but not commenced increased by 5.0% over the quarter while the number of new units fell by -11.7% from its historic high the previous quarter.

With dwelling approvals falling significantly from recordhigh levels since December 2016, it’s reasonable to expect that there will be fewer commencements going forward, particularly for units.

On the other hand, unit completions could remain high for some time given that there are still many houses and units under construction.

The ABS data shows that new house and unit completions have averaged 43,497 a quarter over the past five years.

Even if there were no additional new commencements based on this run-rate it would take almost five quarters for the stock to clear.

PULSE4Sydney property market

Data on projects due to commence shows that the number of starts fell in Victoria and Queensland while they continue to trend higher in New South Wales.

The commencements pull-back in Victoria and Queensland is probably related to unit oversupply concerns in the inner city areas of the state capitals.

In fact, the rate of growth for units is already dramatically lagging that of houses in Melbourne and Brisbane while the same trends are not evident in Sydney.

Clearly we are seeing the market responding to the heightened level of dwelling construction over recent years.


Subscribe & don’t miss a single episode of michael yardney’s podcast

Hear Michael & a select panel of guest experts discuss property investment, success & money related topics. Subscribe now, whether you're on an Apple or Android handset.

Need help listening to michael yardney’s podcast from your phone or tablet?

We have created easy to follow instructions for you whether you're on iPhone / iPad or an Android device.


Prefer to subscribe via email?

Join Michael Yardney's inner circle of daily subscribers and get into the head of Australia's best property investment advisor and a wide team of leading property researchers and commentators.

Avatar for Property Update


Cameron Kusher is Corelogic RP Data’s senior research analyst. Cameron has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals such as demographics, trends & economics. Visit

'New units now outweigh houses for first time on record' have 2 comments

  1. Avatar for Property Update

    April 17, 2017 Gregory

    Hi there, do you think in 2019 if Labour government win power they will drop capital gains tax to 25%? If they do that a lot of investors will sell there properties there will be a flood of properties on the market and a lot of renters. Looking for a new property to rent it will cause carous .

    Do you think if Labour government win power in 2019 they will also change negative gearing or they will use the grand father clock?


    • Avatar for Property Update

      April 17, 2017 Michael Yardney

      Greg. Two great questions
      Of course I’m speculating, but yes it’s likely that labour will fiddle with both capital gains tax and negative gearing.

      Of course no one knows what changes they will make. What I do know is that every time government interferes with our property market to try and make property more affordable it has the effect of pushing up prices.

      I disagree that charges to CGT will make investors sell. In general they’re in it for the long term and this would only make them hold on more rather than sell

      My advice would be not to be too concerned about what could happen. Instead buy investment grade properties in the best locations you can afford and hold them for the long term. During that time governments and laws will change, but you’ll become wealthier


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.


Michael's Daily Insights

Join Michael Yardney's inner circle of daily subscribers.

NOTE: this daily service is a different subscription to our weekly newsletter so...