Could a Revamp of Australian Property Planning Rules Solve Some of Australia’s Housing Issues?

Could a Revamp of Australian Property Planning Rules Solve Some of Australia’s Housing Issues?

Rising property prices and high costs of living means the Australian dream of home ownership is slipping further and further away for many. Could an overhaul of Australian property planning rules offer a solution?

In recent discussions during a heated ABC Q+A debate on Homeownership, Homelessness & Housing supply, the Australian dream of homeownership has taken centre stage again, unveiling a crisis that grips not just potential homeowners but extends its grasp towards the homeless and vulnerable communities across the nation.

Even those “fortunate” enough to have purchased property are feeling significant interest rate stress as cost-of-living soars in recent times. Renters are experiencing rent hikes and dealing with historically low vacancy rates.

Australia’s housing issues in the spotlight

“Fundamentally, the problem is that we’re not building enough homes,” Mr Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, told Q+A.

It’s clear that Australia requires millions more homes to meet current demand but also accommodate future population growth.

However, as it stands, governments are finding it challenging to meet their own targets.

The debate, and followed up by The Sydney Morning Herald article Do planning rules really affect house prices? The answer is clear, has cast a spotlight on a host of interconnected factors contributing to this issue.

At the heart of the matter are planning and zoning rules, which, contrary to some beliefs, significantly influence housing prices and supply. This is a contentious point, highlighted by the disagreement between Max Chandler-Mather, Greens Spokesperson on Housing & Homelessness, and Dan McKenna, CEO of Nightingale Housing, pointing to a deeper complexity within the debate.

While Shadow Assistant Minister for Home Ownership, Senator Andrew Bragg’s remarks on construction industry, skills shortage and migration underscores the multifaceted approach needed to address the crisis.

This crisis reflects broader societal issues—including a shortage in construction and trades to debates on policy, immigration, and infrastructure development.

The challenges extend to financial mechanisms of owning a home, with strategies like tapping into superannuation funds or adopting shared equity schemes considered as possible solutions (which have their own implications).

As housing prices in some states soar to record levels and impact housing affordability, the dream slips further away for many, with rising homelessness a sign of a deepening emergency.

The conversation also touched on regulatory measures like controlling rent increases and revisiting the impacts of capital gains tax and tax concessions, such as negative gearing, which has been identified as contributing factors in the price hikes over the last few decades.

A possible solution to the housing crisis

Looking beyond our shores for solutions, it’s clear that this is not an issue unique to Australia.

International examples offer alternative paths forward and suggest a re-evaluation of property planning rules.

But first, we need to understand our current property planning rules.

Captured and represented by Archistar, Australian Property Planning Rules for Land Use could provide crucial insights into land use and, potentially, relief to the crisis. The data, available via the Snowflake Marketplace, details current land use zoning applied across the nation with geospatial representation. The use of that data can help us to understand where we currently stand and offer possible solutions when variables are tweaked, such as housing density.

Another challenge in solving the housing affordability problem in Australia, and globally for that matter, is the accessibility of data. 

Archistar is helping to break down these barriers by collating national datasets for planning rules that can be easily accessed and analysed using Snowflake’s Data Platform.

The way forward

As we negotiate this national emergency, it becomes increasingly evident that a multifaceted and inclusive approach is essential.

Engaging in open discussions, exploring innovative housing policies, and reconsidering the frameworks which our housing market operates could pave the way towards a more equitable future.

The dream of homeownership, safeguarding against homelessness, and the creation of sustainable communities demand it.

Australian Property Planning Rules for Land Use

Access Archistar’s Australian Property Planning Rules and understand zoning designations and regulations across the nation.

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What Are Mesh Blocks & How Are They Used in Real Estate

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What Are Mesh Blocks & How Are They Used in Real Estate

What Are Mesh Blocks & How Are They Used in Real Estate

What are Mesh Blocks?

As defined by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), mesh blocks are the smallest geographical area of the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) and ABS’s classification of Australia into a hierarchy of statistical areas.

Mesh Blocks are essentially a set of geographic boundaries designed to segment Australia into very small areas. These boundaries are used to apply a systematic grid over the entire country, dividing it into tiny sections called Mesh Blocks. In 2021, the ABS reported 368,286 Mesh Blocks covering the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

Each Mesh Block is a polygon that outlines a specific piece of land, which can range from a single block in a city to a vast, sparsely populated area in the countryside. Most Mesh Blocks contain 30 to 60 dwellings.

How are Mesh Blocks used?

The ABS does not and cannot provide detailed segmentation data (Census data) that can be directly connected to individuals or businesses. Instead, they provide anonymised and aggregated data against geographic areas. Mesh Blocks are the smallest geographic area that the ABS provide statistics against, so offer population and dwelling counts at a hyper-local level – this is particularly useful for census analysis.

These geographic boundaries allow for the aggregation of data from individual Mesh Blocks into larger geographic units, such as suburbs, towns, cities, and regions. This hierarchical structuring makes it possible to analyse data at various levels, from very detailed local information to broader regional or national trends.

Most businesses, including Proptechs, looking to augment their analysis with population segmentation data will adopt Mesh Blocks as their default level geographic unit to gain the highest level of accuracy. The popularity of Mesh Blocks mean many businesses will use Mesh Blocks for geographic statistics regardless of whether or not the Census data is being leveraged.

What role do Mesh Blocks play in proptech?

Mesh Blocks play a vital role in Proptech, geospatial data, and the real estate industry in Australia. Some example uses include:

  • Granular geographical data

Since Mesh Blocks are the smallest geographical units, providing a granular level of detail in geographic data, its precision is valuable for analysing real estate trends at a hyper-local level.

  • Accurate small area statistics

Mesh Blocks are designed to fulfill the need for accurate small area statistics. In Proptech, having precise data at this level is instrumental for understanding localised property markets, demographics, and trends.

  • Spatial mapping and analysis

Geospatial data, including Mesh Blocks, facilitates spatial mapping and analysis. Proptech platforms can leverage this data to visualise and analyse property-related information, helping users make more informed decisions based on geographical insights.

  • Enhanced property valuation

Proptech applications can utilise Mesh Blocks to refine property valuation models. The data on dwellings and residents at this level allows for a more nuanced understanding of property values, considering localised factors.

  • Land use identification

Mesh Blocks broadly identify land use, such as residential, commercial, industrial, parkland, and so forth. Land use information is valuable for proptechs involved in property development, urban planning, and investment strategies.

  • Targeted marketing and outreach

Proptech businesses can use Mesh Blocks data to tailor marketing and outreach strategies to specific geographical areas. Understanding the demographics and dwelling counts at this level allows for targeted and effective location-based campaigns.

  • Census-driven insights

The inclusion of Census data within Mesh Blocks, such as the count of usual residents and dwelling types, provides proptech platforms with up-to-date demographic information. This can aid market analysis, customer profiling, and investment strategies.

  • Integration with digital boundary files

The availability of Mesh Block boundaries in digital boundary files enhances their usability in Proptech applications. These files can be readily integrated into geospatial systems, making it easier for developers and analysts to work with this geographical data.

The foundational building blocks in real estate

Mesh blocks are foundational building blocks for geospatial and proptech applications, providing the necessary granularity and accuracy for understanding local real estate markets, demographics, and land use.

To aid proptechs, The Proptech Cloud offers its Geography – Boundaries & Insights dataset which includes all mesh blocks and their spatial areas for analysis and location-based visualisation of statistics.

The integration of this important information can enhance the precision and relevance of analyses within the proptech and real estate sectors.

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Understanding Auction Clearance Rates: Why Do Calculations Differ?

Understanding Auction Clearance Rates: Why Do Calculations Differ?

Auction clearance rates can serve as a barometer of Australia’s real estate market strength, particularly across its major cities.

These rates are generally a superficial gauge of market strength, because private treaty is still the most common means of property sale in some cities. Nevertheless, property predictions can be drawn when auction clearance rates are analysed alongside other factors and data points.

Clearance rates for Australia’s major real estate markets can be helpful for proptechs who leverage data, analytics, and technology to advance various aspects of the real estate industry.

What Is An Auction Clearance Rate?

The auction clearance rate typically represents the percentage of properties that sold on its advertised auction date in a specific market versus the number of properties that didn’t sell during a particular time frame (typically a week or month).

How Are Auction Clearance Rates Calculated?

There are variations in how clearance rates are calculated and reported, so it’s important to consider this and understand your data provider’s calculations. The variance in calculations means these metrics offer different views and are not interchangeable.

 

Variations to the Calculation

Calculation

Calculation (%)

Basic calculationPercentage of properties sold on auction date during a particular period (week or month)Basic calculation of auction clearance rates
Includes properties sold prior to and during auctionPercentage of properties sold prior to plus on auction date during a particular period (week or month)Basic Calculation + Properties sold prior to auction
Includes properties sold prior to, during and after auctionPercentage of properties sold prior to auction plus on auction date plus after auction date during a particular period (week or month)Sold prior + at + after auction Calculation 

 

What Do Auction Clearance Rates Tell Us?

Auction clearance rates are a crucial market indicator of real estate activity by gauging the numbers of buyers and sellers in a specific market during a certain time frame.

Generally, higher auction clearance rates indicate a higher buyer demand for property in that market, limited supply of available properties and/or with an increased likelihood of rising price, i.e. a hot market for sellers.

Conversely, low auction clearance rates indicates weak buyer demand, possible over-supply of properties and chance of reduced prices which is more favourable to buyers.

In Sydney and Melbourne, a clearance rate above 70% signals a seller’s market, below 60% suggests a buyer’s market, and 60-70% indicates balance.

But the true significance of auction clearance rates lies in its contextual analysis alongside factors such as listing numbers, days on market, withdrawn auctions, fluctuations and regional disparities.

By tracking these rates alongside additional metrics, analysts can anticipate market direction, and measure buyer and seller confidence.

Where Can I Find Clearance Rates For Australia’s Capital Cities?

Auction clearance rates in Australia are reported on a weekly basis.

Some organisations collect data from sales agents and aggregate the data by city and region, such as:

Some news outlets, auction houses and real estate agencies may also publish auction clearance rates for specific regions. Industry reports and analyses related to real estate may also compile this data to provide a comprehensive view into trends.

How Important Are Auction Clearance Rates?

For anyone involved in or impacted by the real estate market, auction clearance rates are an important indicator of demand levels, market sentiment, and potential shifts in property values. But when comparing available data, its crucial to understand the methodology behind the calculations of auction clearance rates.

Auction clearance rates should be used as part of a comprehensive analysis alongside other property data, localised research, and broader market factors. While auction clearance rates offer valuable insights into the direction of the property market, they are just one of many factors to consider, and a holistic approach incorporating various data points is recommended for a thorough understanding of market conditions.

How Might Auction Clearance Rates Be Used By Proptechs?

While not exhaustive, these are a few examples of how auction clearance rates might be used by proptechs and businesses working with real estate data.

  • By analysing clearance rates and buyer demand, price trends can be used to gauge competitiveness of the market. These could all be incorporated into tool development or software development, it could be used to optimise platform features, or to guide content creation to engage users.
  • Combining this information with localised data for property investment, integrating clearance rate data into risk assessment models could allow for more informed investment decisions.
  • Property valuation models could be enhanced with the use of real-time clearance rate data which provides more accurate and dynamic property valuations in areas of high auction activity.

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5 Things A Title Search Can Tell You

5 Things A Title Search Can Tell You

When you’re buying or selling property, proving ownership, or refinancing a mortgage, conducting a title search for a Certificate of Title is essential. But what is a Certificate of Title, and what detail can it provide about a property?

A Certificate of Title (sometimes referred to as a title deed or a land title) serves as a public and legal record of land ownership, including interests and restrictions on the land.

In the past, these certificates were physical papers, but with the availability of e-Conveyancing, they are now available electronically.

In Australia, state land registries hold title information. This title information is accessible through a Title Search from an authorised provider in as little as 60 seconds. A title search unveils crucial details, including property owner/s names, land restrictions, mortgage and lease details, and other important information.

Here are five key revelations from a title search:

1. Ownership Details

The Certificate of Title discloses the names of all landowners, specifying the type of ownership—either tenants in common or joint tenants.

This information is vital for understanding the property’s ownership structure and potential implications.

2. Easements

Easements, granting non-owners the right to use land for a specific purpose, are highlighted.

Common easements include drainage, service access and right of way.

Being aware of these easements is crucial as they can impact land use and construction possibilities.

3. Covenants

Covenants, acting as guidelines or restrictions on the land, outline limitations on construction.

Developers create covenants to maintain quality and aesthetics. Understanding these rules is essential for compliance during property alterations.

4. Caveats

Caveats serve as warnings that others have an interest in the property, preventing certain actions like selling.

A caveat is lodged with the state land registry, signaling potential claims to the property.

Buyers must be vigilant for caveats as they indicate potential issues with the property’s title.

5. Mortgages

The presence of a mortgage is disclosed – if one exists – indicating that the bank holds the Certificate of Title instead of the property owner.

This information is crucial for buyers, as the seller must discharge the mortgage before settlement to avoid delays.

Conducting a title search provides a comprehensive understanding of a property’s legal and ownership status, and the careful consideration of these details not only ensures compliance but also helps avoid potential issues, to help individuals, investors or businesses make more informed decisions in real estate transactions. 

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Understanding Housing Affordability: Key Metrics and Statistics

Understanding Housing Affordability: Key Metrics and Statistics

Housing affordability is a significant concern in many parts of the world, affecting the quality of life and economic wellbeing of individuals and families.

Professor Nicole Gurran from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning says governments around the world are searching for solutions to fix housing affordability, with two opposing schools of thought seeing the solutions as:

  1. Increasing supply. Those in support of this point of view see housing as more expensive because there’s not enough new supply. They see land use regulation and planning processes as restrictive to new construction, adding costly delays and uncertainty to the development process.
  2. On the flipside, others argue that ‘demand side’ factors underlying global house price inflation, such as low cost credit under financial deregulation, or government incentives to encourage property investment are being ignored. They highlight the political influence of property industry groups sustaining housing demand while advocating for reduced regulations. Some even suggest that extensive rezoning reforms may trigger surges in redevelopment and gentrification, potentially displacing individuals with lower incomes.

To truly understand the dynamics of housing affordability we need to take a detailed look at a range of different metrics and statistics to gain a full picture.

Shedding light on these crucial measures can offer insights for homebuyers, policymakers, real estate professionals, and urban planners.

1. Median and Average Home Prices

These figures provide a baseline for understanding the cost of purchasing a home in a particular area, with the median providing a middle point and the average presenting an overall trend.

2. Price-to-Income Ratio

This critical ratio compares home prices to average household incomes. A higher ratio suggests that homes are less affordable relative to income.

3. Housing Affordability Measures

A Housing Affordability Index (HAI) assesses whether a typical family can afford the mortgage on a median-priced home, based on their income. An index above 100 indicates greater affordability.

The issue with the HAI is that it primarily focuses on purchase affordability.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) broadens what they classify as housing costs in measuring housing affordability.

AIHW defines housing costs as

the sum of rent payments, rate payments (water and general), and housing–related mortgage payments”,

AIHW expresses housing affordability as

“the ratio of housing costs to gross household income”,

While housing stress is typically described as

lower-income households that spend more than 30% of gross income on housing costs“.

The second measure is a more comprehensive approach which considers a range of housing costs, the complexity of housing affordability and its impact on households.

4. Rent-to-Income Ratio

Rent-to-Income Ratio compares a tenant’s monthly rent to their gross monthly income expressed as a ratio. For those in the rental market, this ratio measures how much of a household’s income is spent on rent, with higher values indicating less affordability.

Rental property

5. Mortgage Interest Rates

Interest rates directly affect the cost of borrowing money for home purchases.

An increase in mortgage interest rates typically mean an increase in mortgage repayments, which can negatively impact affordability.

While a reduction in rates typically means reduced mortgage repayments, which may improve affordability.

6. Mortgage Payment as a Percentage of Income

Mortgage payment as a percentage of income is an important measure of affordability by demonstrating the burden of mortgage payments relative to a household’s income.

This percentage is calculated by dividing monthly mortgage repayments by gross monthly wages. 

The recommended figure is 28% of pre-tax income. Or in other words, no more than 28% of gross monthly income should go towards monthly mortgage repayments.

7. Homeownership Rates

Broad changes in homeownership rates can signal shifts in affordability, and the overall health of the housing market. 

To gain an idea of homeownership rates in Australia, AIHW shares a view of Home ownership and housing tenure in Australia.

8. Cost of Living

Several measures are published to calculate and help gauge changes in the cost of living. Changes in cost of living impacts our household purchasing power and has implications for housing demand. 

The main ways we measure cost of living is the Consumer Price Index.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by households for a fixed basket of goods and services (which is grouped into 11 categories: Food and non-alcoholic beverages, Alcohol and tobacco, Clothing and footwear, Housing, Furnishings, household equipment and services, Health, Transport, Communication, Recreation and culture, Education, and Insurance and financial services).

 It’s important to note that the calculation of CPI does not include the cost of buying established dwellings, nor mortgage repayments. However, it does include rents, the cost of new dwellings (excluding value of land) and major alterations and additions to dwellings. 

Included in CPI

Not included in CPI

  • Rent
  • Cost of new dwellings (excluding value of land)
  • Major alterations and additions to dwellings
  • Rates and charges
  • Utilities
  • The cost of buying established dwellings
  • The cost of purchasing land
  • Mortgage repayments
  • Costs associated with servicing a mortgage
Consumer Price Index

9. Gini Coefficient of Home Prices

The Gini Coefficient statistical measure is typically used as a measure of income inequality, although it can be used to assess inequality in various other contexts, including home values in a real estate market.

A Gini index of 0 represents perfect equality, while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality.

This measure can indicate the inequality in home values within a market, with higher values suggesting greater disparity.

10. Building Permits and Housing Starts

Building permits and housing starts are indicators of building activity and housing supply.  They can signal future market changes which may impact affordability.

11. Vacancy Rates

A vacancy rate is a measure of the percentage of all rental properties that are currently vacant and available for rent.

Fluctuations in vacancy rates can impact rental prices, as elevated rates often correlate with decreased rents, and conversely, lower vacancy rates may lead to higher rental prices.

12. Debt-to-Income Ratio

An individual’s Debt-to-Income Ratio is calculated by taking their total debt and dividing it by their annual income.

This ratio reflects a person’s capacity to afford housing in light of their existing debts.

14. Population Growth and Urbanisation

Rapid population increases or urbanisation can heighten housing demand, affecting affordability.

A Multifaceted View of Housing Affordability

These range of metrics offer a multifaceted and broader view of housing affordability, reflecting the many factors that impact pricing, while implicitly highlighting the complexities of the housing market.

They’re essential for making informed decisions, shaping policies, and understanding market trends.

By keeping a close eye on these indicators, stakeholders can better navigate the challenges and opportunities within the housing sector.

Subscribe to our newsletter

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Read more blogs from The Proptech Cloud

Australia’s Migration Trends: Where Are People Moving To?

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Could a Revamp of Australian Property Planning Rules Solve Some of Australia’s Housing Issues?

Rising property prices and high costs of living means the Australian dream of home ownership is slipping further away for many. Could the answer lie in a revamp of property planning rules?

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Staying abreast of the latest trends, technologies, and innovations is crucial for professionals seeking to leverage the full potential of real estate technology and proptech.

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