Bonanza for brickies as WA leads housing revival
It has come at a cost but WA is in the midst of a significant housing recovery after recording the country's biggest number of first-homebuyers and the fastest growth in new homes. The Housing Industry Association claims the revival has underpinned an average 9 per cent increase across all trade rates in the past year, the biggest rise in the country.A survey by The West Australian shows Perth bricklayers have emerged the big winners. One builder, who declined to be named, said his brickies were now paid $1.40 per external double brick, up from $1 a year ago. Clay Riches, senior supervisor for Impressions, said the rate had increased from $1.35 per double brick a year ago to $1.60 now, most of the increase being in the past month. The owner of City Residence, Joseph Allia, said he has long paid $1.40 per double brick, and the price was now being widely matched as competition for good bricklayers heats up.
Job ads for tradespeople have almost doubled in the past year, with bricklayers accounting for 70 per cent of the vacancies. HIA research shows a 34 per cent increase in the number of homes built in the past financial year, to more than 24,000. It was the steepest increase in the nation, followed by NSW with a 29 per cent rise. A separate Bankwest report shows the number of first-homebuyers in WA soared 31 per cent, with nearly 20,000 in the past financial year. Victoria recorded the next highest influx of entry buyers, with a relatively modest 9 per cent increase. NSW and Queensland, which abolished first-homebuyer grants for established homes, saw substantial drops in entry-level buyers.
But opinion is divided on the price impact, with HIA expecting no change and the Master Builders Association warning of imminent increases. MBA's Gavan Forster said the mining downturn had freed up many tradespeople but rising trade rates would add to pressure from a 40 per cent jump in housing indemnity insurance announced yesterday. Mr Forster said the increase in the mandatory insurance would add up to $800 to construction costs for the average house. HIA chief economist Harley Dale said the WA market was enjoying good news on several fronts and the sector had enough spare capacity to absorb the extra demand. "From a low starting point the new home building sector in WA has mounted a genuine recovery," Mr Dale said. "The fastest population growth in Australia, very low interest rates, first-homebuyer engagement, and rising property prices providing a boost to trade-up buyers are just four of the positive factors at play."