Regional manager of Mackay Whitsunday Master Builders Malcolm Hull.
Regional manager of Mackay Whitsunday Master Builders Malcolm Hull. Aidan Cureton

Mackay bright spot in Queensland's gloomy housing market

MACKAY is bucking the trend as newly released data shows Queensland's housing industry is otherwise looking bleak.

Almost all regions within Queensland had a drop in dwelling builds over the past year but the Mackay Whitsunday region recorded a 8.4 per cent raise in home builds.

The only other region to show an increase was the Sunshine Coast at 2.3 per cent.

The number of houses being built throughout the state were down 39,000 for the past year.

This was the first time housing starts in Queensland dropped below 40,000 in the past five years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data supports what the industry has been experiencing for the past year ending May 2019.

Masters Builders' Mackay Whitsunday regional manager Malcolm Hull said the increase in builds was directly related to the announcements of several major projects within the region.

"The opening of the Galilee Basin, as well as the Qantas Pilot Academy going ahead have sparked interest in Mackay," Mr Hull said.

"These projects will have a huge flow-on effect to the housing industry. Employees and students will be flocking to Mackay with their families and they will all need somewhere to live."

Mr Hull said the Mackay Waterfront PDA approval would also encourage positive movement within the building industry.

"It enhances the liveability of the region and people who may plan to come here to work or study temporarily may end up staying here when they realise it's a great place to live," he said.

"Everything we have consulted and forecasted up to this point shows this activity will continue.

"We're still not doing record build numbers here in Mackay, but there is no doubt whatsoever the local building industry is capable of taking on more house builds than what they are presently doing."

The REIQ reported Mackay's annual median house price increased 1 per cent in the quarter over the year ending in March.

Mr Hull said he had seen a slight increase in home prices but they were also the best they had been for a long time and competition within the local market was healthy.

"We don't want to see the boom that happened several years ago. We want to see a steady increase, and our industry can cater for that," he said.

"Consistently building good products and educating consumers to use local builders will be key to avoiding another black hole situation.

"Building too much product is always a danger, that is what happened during the last boom. It resulted in an oversupply of housing that took several years for the local population to catch up with.

"What I want to see is a steady increase to meet the needs of the market and if the building industry sticks to that it will mean a bright future for Mackay," Mr Hull said.

Master Builders deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said he was wondering when Queensland's overall industry would turn around.

"Despite this data, there are a range of recent factors that could increase economic growth," Mr Bidwell said.

"Things like the latest tax and interest rate cuts may influence confidence and it's good news that we no longer have the spectre of negative gearing and capital gains tax changes hanging over our heads.

"While we're welcoming this dim light at the end of the tunnel, it is unfortunately somewhat offset, by some negatives at a state level.

"The effects of the new waste levy, the tranche of building industry payment regimes and the Professional Indemnity insurance challenges are all being felt."

Mr Bidwell said these changes had created uncertainty and added costs to projects.

"The reality is, the housing sector is in a state of freefall but we are hopeful that economic conditions will turn around; the question just remains when we'll see that change."

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