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PROPERTY INDUSTRY CONFIDENCE SURGES WITH BIGGEST JUMP ON RECORD

Property industry confidence has surged back to pre-pandemic levels.

The ANZ/Property Council industry survey for the December 2020 quarter showed a strong improvement in sentiment across the industry, with the biggest jumps in sentiment for residential, retirement living and industrial construction.

The national industry confidence score for the December quarter soared by 41 index points to 123 points, returning to the same level prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the biggest quarterly index increase in the survey’s history.

Property Council of Australia chief executive, Ken Morrison, said the return to pre-pandemic confidence levels would be critical in supporting the Australian economy through 2021.

“Property is our biggest industry and employer, and higher levels of confidence across our industry are good for the whole economy.

“There’s no doubt that Commonwealth and state and territory government economic stimulus and business support measures have done their job in supporting our industry and the economy through the worst impact of COVID-19.

“Even as stimulus measures are being wound back, critical industry confidence metrics such as forward work and staffing across all markets surveyed have returned to strongly positive results,” Mr Morrison said.

All states and territories included in the survey reported big jumps in industry sentiment.

Victoria showed the biggest improvement for the period, with confidence returning to positive territory for the first time in four surveys, reaching 115 index points compared to 64 in the previous quarter.

Western Australia recorded the strongest confidence score in the country at 133, which is 14 index points above its historical average and nine points up compared to the December 2019 quarter.

South Australia increased to 128, up by 30 index points on the previous quarter and 11 points higher than the pre-pandemic period. Industry confidence was third-highest in the ACT at 125, followed by Queensland (124), NSW (123) and Victoria (115).

ANZ Senior Economist, Felicity Emmett, commented: “Property sentiment has rebounded sharply, reflecting both the lift in economic activity over the past few months, as well as stronger confidence in the outlook for next year.

“Falling mortgage interest rates and targeted stimulus are clearly helping to support the housing sector, where confidence is now back above pre-COVID levels. The HomeBuilder scheme, along with state and federal government initiatives, is giving the housing construction outlook a boost, although weak population growth and elevated unemployment will be headwinds. More broadly, government stimulus measures are underpinning the economic recovery and with that sentiment.

“COVID-19 and its associated shutdowns have had a massive impact. A significant proportion of that impact will be confined to the June and September quarters of 2020. But some of the potential longer-term impacts of the pandemic are apparent in the survey. The ongoing strength in the outlook for industrial property reflects in part the accelerated move to online sales and the associated lift in warehousing capability, while the office outlook is clearly being weighed down by the potential for a more permanent shift to work-from-home arrangements.”

There were 837 respondents to the online survey between 16 November and 2 December 2020.

Key findings

100 on the index scale is considered neutral. More than 100 is positive; less than 100 is negative confidence.

  • National confidence levels increased by 41 index points to 123 for the December 2020 quarter – the biggest quarterly increase on record and returning the industry confidence index to the historical survey average of 123.
  • National forward work expectations improved by 36 index points on the previous quarter, from -5 to 31 index points.
  • National staffing level expectations returned to positive, increasing by 17 index points to 12.
  • National economic growth expectations are back in positive territory for the first time in six quarters at 13 index points, compared to -52 index points in the previous quarter.
  • 70 per cent of respondents believe the future impact of COVID-19 on their business will improve over the next three months, up by 19 per cent on the previous survey. Only 7 per cent believe impacts will get worse. Sentiment is strongest in Victoria with 76 per cent expecting things to improve.
  • 52 per cent of respondents believe Hotels, Tourism and Leisure sector will be most severely impacted by COVID-19, followed by commercial office (30 per cent) and shopping centres (11 per cent).
  • 79 per cent of developers operating in the residential sector believe the HomeBuilder grant will have a positive impact on their business over the next quarter.
  • 21 per cent of survey respondents have accessed the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program compared to 47 per cent in the previous survey.
  • There has been a big improvement in expectations around debt finance availability compared to the previous quarter with sentiment now positive for the first time in four surveys.
  • House capital growth expectations increased by 32 index points and are now positive in all markets surveyed, with sentiment strongest in WA.
  • Office capital growth expectations improved this quarter, but continue to be negativeat -41 index points.
  • Retail capital growth expectations also improved, but remain negative at -30 index points.
  • Industrial capital growth expectations increased by 15 points and are now the strongest in the history of the survey at 27 index points.
  • National retirement living capital growth expectations returned to positive at 6 index points compared to -10 index points in the previous survey.
  •  Hotel capital growth expectations remain negative at -32 index points but improved significantly on the previous quarter.
  • Industrial construction is at its highest level in the survey’s history at 47 index points, followed by residential (35) and retirement living (27). The outlook for residential construction is now at its highest level since September 2015.
  • Prime cap rates are expected to compress in WA, QLD and the ACT over the next 12 months.
  • Confidence in the Federal Government’s performance in delivering policies that encourage jobs and economic growth bounced back to 49 index points this quarter, with sentiment in NSW, Queensland, SA and the ACT highest on record.
  • Sentiment towards the NSW, WA and SA state governments were at their highest level on record. Sentiment towards the Victorian government returned to positive, while the Queensland government continued to be viewed negatively.

 

To view select ANZ/Property Council Survey historical data series, visit the Property Council’s Data Room

To find out more about the ANZ/Property Council Survey and our Supporting Sponsor RCP, visit: www.propertycouncil.com.au/confidence

Media contact: Matt Francis m 0467 777 220 e mfrancis@propertycouncil.com.au