Immigrants are underpinning Australia’s largest house and land market, with more than 65 per cent of second-quarter greenfield land sales in Melbourne to buyers born outside Australia, figures from consultancy Oliver Hume show.
While the proportion has come back from its peak of 77 per cent last year, a widening over the past decade in the greenfields market beyond the traditional cohort of first home buyers had given it a depth that was likely to be undermined by a cut in immigration, Oliver Hume head of research George Bougias said.
“Any cut to immigration would have a negative momentum in the market,” he said. “But the quantum of cut is important. But particularly given we’ve seen a lot of older buyers and second-home buyers that would suggest the demand is quite resilient,” Mr Bougias said.
Prompted in part by rising prices that made the Victorian capital more expensive, a broadening in the type of buyers, including owner-occupier and downsizers, was occurring in the largest cohort of greenfields buyers – Indian-born immigrants – Mr Bougias said.
This cohort, which accounted for about 5 per cent of Melbourne greenfields buyers in 2008-2009 had grown steadily and diversified to between nearly half of the total this year, he said.
As few as one-quarter of the buyers were first home buyers in an 84-lot stage of developer Stockland’s Mount Atkinson project in Tarneit, 25 kilometres west of Melbourne, last November.
While the extent of any cut in immigration levels – called for by figures such as former prime minister Tony Abbott – was crucial, the strength and deepening of immigrant Australians gave the greenfields market a resilience to withstand a reduction in the country’s annual intake better than it had in the past, Mr Bougias said.
Oliver Hume’s latest Quarterly Market Insights national land market report, which focuses on the two largest land markets of Melbourne and south-east Queensland, also shows that Melbourne’s rising prices are encouraging a larger proportion of Indian-born Australians, who have been overwhelmingly based in Melbourne, to go to Queensland.
“What we’re seeing now is that 10 per cent of our buyers in Queensland are Indian-born,” Mr Bougias said.
This also reflected the improvement underway in Queensland’s economy and the growing range of employment options attracting people, he said.
“South-east Queensland is becoming more like Melbourne and Sydney in some respects – from employment, whether professional or white-collar workers. Queensland today is very different to what it was 20 years ago.”