15 August 2008

Record immigration putting pressure on Australian housing industry

Experts have warned the Australian housing industry that an extra 40,000 homes will need to be built every year to cope with immigration demands, reports Voice of America News.

The Australian government is continually widening its immigration doors to solve the problem of a shortage of skilled workers in the country.  For the year of 2008-09, the quota in the Australian migration program is set for 190, 300 people, with around 70 per cent allocated to skilled workers, and 13,500 places left for humanitarian visas. 

The Government has been focusing on recruiting IT workers, miners and mining engineers, accountants, and construction workers from the UK, New Zealand and South Africa, while other occupations from the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) remain a top priority. 

But while the skilled migration program in Australia has been acknowledged as one of the best in the world, it is having a knock-on effect in the property market.  Demand for housing has shot through the roof as more people catch on to the advantages of moving to Australia.

Demographer Bernard Salt told reporters, "During calendar 2007 the Australian continent added 332,000 people.  Never before in our history have we added that number of people to our population base. 330,000 people per year is a rate and pace that we're not really comfortable with. We're used to growing at the 220, 230,000 per year. Our systems, our infrastructure, our culture can cope with that. We're un-used to travelling at this pace."

On the other hand, a Housing Industry Association (HIA) survey of Australia found that the property market is getting stronger, and has been attributed to these record numbers of Australian immigration. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, 100 of Australia’s builders and developers took part in the survey, which concluded that house and unit sales increased by 4 per cent, detached house sales rose by 2.6 per cent and multi-unit sales by 15.5 per cent.

New South Wales has been revelling in the highest growth of house sales, seeing a growth of 20.2 per cent over the past month, while the “resources-driven” Western Australia’s sales grew by 16 per cent, reports the newspaper. 

The government is trying to ease the foreseen housing problems: recently it began a program to add 50,000 rental properties for low-income earners and is giving first-time buyers a $7000 grant and some a stamp duty waiver or discount.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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