The Housing Industry Association (HIA) reports a positive start to 2014 with home sales registering an increase of 0.5 per cent in January. HIA is the voice of Australia’s residential building industry.

HIA Senior Economist, Shane Garrett observes that new home sales, following their small decline in December, resumed their growth trajectory during January with sales of new detached houses rising by 0.3 per cent, and multi-unit sales increasing by 1.6 per cent. 

He explains that new home sales have been rising pretty steadily since the third quarter of 2012, encouraged by the falling interest rates and the return of confidence to the housing market. 

Compared with the same month last year, new home sales were up by 17 per cent. The three months to January saw an annual increase of 22.3 per cent compared with the same quarter twelve months earlier. 

According to Shane Garrett, strengthening new home sales activity suggests higher dwelling construction activity during early 2014. The HIA’s recently published series of Outlook reports revised its forecasts for new home commencements upwards for 2014. About 165,600 commencements are expected this year, followed by 168,000 starts in 2015.

However, Shane Garrett cautions that new home sales recovery has not benefitted all states; therefore, state governments framing their budgets in the coming months should ensure their policies work to sustain the housing market recovery. 

In the month of January 2014 new private detached house sales increased by 10.9 per cent in Victoria and by 0.4 per cent in Queensland. New detached house sales declined by 6.9 per cent in South Australia, fell by 6.4 per cent in New South Wales and declined by 1.9 per cent in Western Australia. 

During the three months ended January 2014, new detached house sales increased in South Australia (+50.4 per cent), Queensland (+17.8 per cent) and New South Wales (+6.2 per cent). New detached house sales declined in Western Australia (-1.1 per cent) and in Victoria (-12.3 per cent) over the same three-month period.